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Dear jewelry friends,

it is often said that Florence has very little devoted to contemporary cultures, so on a grey Sunday like this we decided to pitch to you three shows of contemporary visual arts we believe you shouldn’t miss while here. And we believe so because all of them, although in completely different ways and rather laterally more than literally, engage with the human body and its representation. Un-doubtly food for thought for jewelry makers around the world.

[Disclaimer: two out of the three shows we recommend have been curated or organized by some of our present or past Alchimia Team members. This is to say that we are not entirely partial but also that our staff really is the best you can find around.]

We start with WOMAN POWER a solo-show by Maria Lassnig (1914 – 2014), on view until June 25 at the Andito deli Angiolini of Palazzo Pitti. A paramount austrian artist of the XX century, this exhibition features 25 of her works, spanning her career from the beginning of the Sixties and until the first decade of the XX century. The female body and its self-representation are at the core of her practice, for a path that calls for women’s emancipation.

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It’s also so beautiful to read in capital letters Woman Power in front of one of the city’s strongest symbols)

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Electronic Renaissance, a solo-show by Bill Viola at Palazzo Strozzi on view until July 23.

Viola has explored Christianity and its representation in the XV and XVI century as a tool to reflect on contemporary society and its faces and facets. With a touch of new age spiritual vibe, his works are a whirlwind of emotions and spectacularity. A reflection about life and death as felt and seen through the decay or perfection of the human body.

Whether you like this master of video-art or not, this is an exhibition that is worth seeing already for two main reasons: one is that for the first time Viola’s relation to Renaissance’s painting is brought to the fore via a direct dialogue with the original paintings he was inspired by; the second is that this is a large solo-exhibition through which you can experience and understand the artist’s practice from the seventies and until today, hence allowing for a much more nuanced understanding of his oevre as a whole (including jewels of documentation of Viola’s three years experience working as an assistant in Tuscany with the ground breaking Art/tapes/22).

Our dream art history and cultural theory professor Riccardo Lami has been a core member in the organization of this show.

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Essentially Jérôme Bel offers a different approach to dance. One in which dancers become speaking subjects and the co-authors of his works. In which professional dancers and amateurs from different cultural and social contexts have access, together, to the stage. Where the realm of the “real” and of its excluded subjects becomes the content and form of his choreographic pieces.

Also in this exhibition the body and its forms are paramount, a body that is diverse and emancipated, a body that is hard to see at the centre stage: where disabled, elderly, people with diverse cultural and ethnical backgrounds, and even children, perform a dance that moves miles away from our standard conception of beauty and movement.

The show will open on Friday the 28th without the classic on-invite-only-entrance: so get yourself together and make the effort to go to Prato where you’ll be able to see the exhibition for free and experience a number of live performances for the occasion (at 7 and at 9pm + an ongoing one). 

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Enjoy the week and go see some art.

x

Alchimia

 

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Marissa Ryan Racht’s new body of work titled Farview, outcome of a two-year research developed within the MA program of Alchimia, exists on what she defines as “the fine line between fear and empathy that defines us as human beings, and the methods we use to conceal them or protect ourselves against them”. Delicate but ultimately rough, seducing in a rather uncanny way, hard to define or classify, her pieces could be read and experienced within a larger exhibitionary framework in which images, photographs and a video introduced the audience to her larger set of references, both architectural and biographical, and to a particular type of drawings she realized with closed eyes incited by the reading of stories of fear and empathy of other people.

But let’s start from the basics. The site of the show, was a space available for an affordable rent in the center of Florence that created the right environment for the pieces.

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Tables (and mind: beautiful ones taken from an antiquary) were hung from the ceiling so as to keep the jewelry pieces in the center of the exhibition format, surrounded by the other elements of the show such as the drawings.

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Did you notice the white leather chair? Quite a number were distributed through the space, to direct specific viewing positions Marissa was interested in facilitating.

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Marissa brought forward two collaborations, one for the images with Lilian Mattuschka, and one for a film with Federico Cavicchioli.

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She printed a beautiful catalogue in 60 copies, designed by Lumy Noguez, with texts by curator and writer Riccardo Lami and herself, images of the pieces and many of her drawings. The price is 15eu only for special and limited edition, so we can’t but encourage to get one at your earliest convenience.

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Last but not least: the carefully arranged food, as Marissa really takes care of every detail.

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And of course as always we recommend: don’t forget to thanks friends (and family). As far as we know Carla Movia and Bernardo Cioci were paramount in making this happen.

x

Everything is circular

1. Draw; Keep Lists; Collect images; Document

Drawing is a way of thinking; it is my daily ritual. Find what suits you best and generate ideas on a regular schedule. It is not so much about inspiration, but hard work. Sit down and something will come. Even if it is just one word or one line that day it can become a future source of inspiration. An image may catch your attention one random Tuesday and become the basis of a new body of work 3 years later.

Document your work – even if seems like the most boring of tasks on earth.   DO IT!

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‘Hangers’; 2014

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‘Untitled Project 2’; 2014

 

2. Explore new techniques and old techniques

In the ‘Jewelry World’, like the ‘Art World’ techniques seem to come into fashion in waves. It is easy to get caught up in these trends. But choose techniques for the right reasons – new techniques are always exciting, but I have found they are always the most interesting when placed in contrast with the old ways of doing things. Respect tradition by learning about it, but don’t forget to challenge and question.

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‘If it were not for the muck.kerchief I’ ; 2015

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‘If it were not for the muck.kerchief II’ ; 2015

 3. Be generous; collaborate

The most interesting and impressive people I have met have been generous with their time and knowledge. This is a quality I try to emulate. Engage with people in different fields and from different places. Knowledge is gold.   Conversations can lead to understanding and to unthinkable collaborations. These collaborations can help you see your work in a new way.

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‘Crit Room Detritus’; collaboration with Amy Wang; 2014

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‘Hanging Blanks’; 2016

 4. Float, but with a paddle

 I have never been someone with a plan, I prefer to wander or float. Understand the downsides of this and figure out how to overcome them.   Goals are important, but you cannot change your natural way of exploring the world. I have had to learn how to deal with the shortcoming of this method of living life. I bought a paddle – steer from time to time.

 

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‘Football Crop-Top’; 2016

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‘Sparkle Jacket’; 2016 (photo credit: Aliona Kustenova)

 5. Give errors a second chance

A step back and time away can help reframe your work and always helps me understand it in a different light. This is helpful when you feel lost. Embrace mistakes, but be critical. Creation is messy and a fertile mistake can lead you in directions you were never even aware existed.

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‘Houses’; table drawings for la douzaine; 2017

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‘Tracing Blank-ie’; 2013

 Everything is circular

 The more I do, the more I realize everything is circular. My path and choices have sometimes seemed unrelated. I am impulsive and dive head first into whatever interests me at the moment. But I am learning that maybe my impulses are perhaps less random then I first thought. Maybe they are subconscious and born from my core interests. Forging the same path over and over is OK. The treads will wear down the earth under your feet and a deeper circle will be etched away. This has taken me a while to figure out, so be patient and kind with yourself!

Never one for traditional paths, Nadège Roscoe-Rumjahn’s has followed a circuitous route through her educational journey. With a background in architecture from McGill University, she found herself drawn to the opposing scale of contemporary jewelry.  Diving head first, she attended Alchimia in Florence, Italy and in 2014, completed a master’s in fine arts at Cranbrook Academy of Art.  Her passion for architecture, fashion, objecthood and craft has led to an insatiable appetite for technique, as she continues to grow as a multi-media artist. Her primary focus is on the human form as she searches to express a moment where intimacy exists.

Nadege’s latest project ‘la douzaine’ is a play on a maker’s dozen.  Handmade, one-of-a-kind blankets, table linens, clothing and weavings are created for the discerning collector. Small batches and limited editions are the output of unique projects and collaborations, all nodding to a slowly fading textile industry.

It’s not easy to advice jewelry maker Carla Movia. Not easy because she mostly knows and plans everything before you were even asked. She does research, she studies possibilities. She knows what has preceded her and has very strong esthetic opinions on contemporary jewelry and its different threads. She reads, she sees a lot, and is very well informed. She is hungry of a particular type of knowledge, and she perfectly knows what she is looking for. Nomen Nescio, the exhibition coming out of her 2 years research during the MFA program at Alchimia, and essentially an installation of 300 brooches, shows exactly all of that.

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The pieces highlight a uniqueness amongst the mass, hence the decision to show them in grids was a very smart one. Instead of creating chaotic crowds of pieces shown throughout the space, this type of display setting gives the visitor the chance to really care and look for the details and the differences between them.

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Each piece came with its own “passport”: literally a sort of identity document for the pieces, giving information about them, such as their names, materials, leaving space to document their journeys and speak of their future owners. This gives the pieces a political tone, one that speaks of citizenship and sense of identity.

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As we always suggest at Alchimia: do make good edition pieces. Here you can see how several in fact were sold. Please note that this can be your little contribution to society: Carla decided to donate a percentage of the sales to Oxfam, a confederation of NGO’s working on the alleviation of global poverty.

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The exhibition was held in a very beautiful private space not far from the school. This is not the best choice in terms of audiences as of course this means the space itself won’t bring in a crowd. On the other hand the esthetic result has been just what Carla was looking for. In one way or the other we find ourselves almost always having to make some compromises.

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As always, and again and again, friends play a major role in setting up an exhibition. Be always sure to check their schedule, not only yours, when planning a date.

x

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The ornament is a very rich and complex cultural phenomenon. The need for decoration and ornamentation has always been an essential part of mankind, from the earliest civilizations until the present day. The ornament is present in every discipline of the Arts, and closely related to the world of jewellery, in which the need to decorate the body forms the main reason for its existence. A piece of jewellery is always an ornament, but an ornament is not always a piece of jewellery.

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The ornament can have a symbolic, aesthetic or social function since there is an intimate relation between ornaments and the way people express their life. Feelings of joy, lust and grieve are all materialized in ornaments. Although being attacked for the first time in history in the early 20th century by the architect Adolf Loos and by the philosophy of the modernists, the ornament clearly survived and has now proven to be a subject for contemporary developments in both Fine Art and Design.

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During the course the students will investigate the origin of the ornament, its meaning and full potency. The students will be encouraged to connect the world of jewellery with other disciplines, and to search for a relation between the past and the present. Through short exercises and assignments, both individual talks and group discussions the students will develop a personal and contemporary vision on the ornament which will have to result in finished pieces.

I strongly believe every student has to become aware of the relation between the mind, the heart and the belly during the creative process. To form a strong and personal vision, concentration and deepening is necessary. During the workshop the students will be challenged to go the whole way with an idea, to stretch it as far as it can go.

The workshop will take place from July 11 to 15, 2017.

For more information write to: info@alchimia.it

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Evert Nijland is a Dutch jewelry maker. His work has been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions world-wide, including in the Galerie Rob Koudijs, Galerie Louise Smit, Coda museum, Gorkums Museum, Textielmuseum and Stedelijk Museum (NL), Galerie Spektrum and Cranach Haus, Museum fur Kunst und Gew,  Internationale Handwerksmesse ‘Schmuck’(DE), Oratorio di San Rocco (IT), Cheongju International Craft Biennale (KR), Fondation Bernardaud (FR), MAD Museum (USA), Victoria & Albert Museum (UK) among many more. He is the recipient of several awards among the many the Dutch Design Prizes and The Sotheby’s Award and his work has been acquired by public collections such as the Nationaal Zilvermuseum, Nederlands Textielmuseum, MMK Museum, Coda Museum and Stedelijk Museum (NL), Mima, Middlesbrough Intitute of Modern Art and Victoria & Albert Museum (UK), Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Museum of Arts and Design, New York and the Mint Museum of Crafts & Design, Charlotte NC (USA).

 

 

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  1. ALWAYS LOOK FOR A NEW CHALLENGE IN ORDER TO KEEP IMPROVING

I think that challenging yourself continuously is very important. You can only move forward, if you force yourself to learn new things. If you keep acting only in your comfort zone, you will stay at the same point constantly.

Wether it is on a general professional or personal level, or just a single object I am working on – I always try to find new techniques or materials to explore. Some people want to focus on one same material or technique, which is also fine. The most important thing for me however is not to stop at the same point each time. Try to continue to surprise yourself, to go further than what you have imagined and find new, and different ways to do and to think.

In my latest series Diplopia I have used various techniques including 3D printing for the first time. It offered a complete new way of working to me. I think it is important to be open to a broad spectrum of techniques and materials, from traditional ones to new technologies. Be open to adapt to new opportunities in order to seize all the possibilities you are offered.

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2. HAVE A DREAM/A GOAL/A PLAN

 

 I believe that if you have a goal and you really want to achieve something, it is important that you frame it for yourself. If you keep seeing it clear in front of you, your whole body and mind will move towards it. Every decision and every move, leads you closer to your goal.

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3. BELIEVE THAT YOU CAN DO EVERYTHING!

Don´t hesitate to participate or apply because you think you are not experienced enough, or are too anxious about the possibility of failing. It is very tough to be self-confident in the art field. Especially as art jewelers, when we sometimes seem to float in an area between design, arts and crafts. Thus, it is such a satisfaction to achieve something that you did not think you could do. Those moments keep you going and help you to move on, so strive for them.

This year I won the “Eligius-Schmuckpreis 2016”. When I decided to apply I really did not have high hopes to get chosen, since I had just finished my studies and moved to Vienna a few months earlier. I decided to give it a shot anyway since it can´t hurt. Eventually I won the prize, which was an amazing opportunity and honor. I realized that I was wrong in not believing in my chances. We can always find reasons not to do things, but those will keep us from engaging in great possibilities and if we just try, we might be proven wrong. And also: failing is a learning experience too!

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4. HAVE HIGH AIMS

 

Don´t limit yourself and your ideas. At first, for every idea and every plan you should aim as high as you can. Let your ideas and thoughts develop free from limitations. Step by step you can try to find solutions for realizing them or for solving the problems or for finding other, easier ways to get where you want to.

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5. BE OPEN AND COURAGEOUS FOR NEW POSSIBILITIES

 

Have a plan, a dream, but don´t stick to it irrevocably. Often you need to change, adjust or adapt your plans a little. Maybe this will lead to steps that you did not plan in advance, but they might just lead you to another route on the way to your goal. If there are chances, you have to catch them.

At the beginning of my educational path as a jeweler I could not have imagined where my way would lead. I had not planned on doing my bachelors in Florence and I never thought I would complete my masters degree in the US. I am incredibly happy that I took the chances as they came, as those where the most valuable experiences of my whole life.

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6. DISAPPOINTMENTS ARE PART OF THE GAME

In my second year of grad school one of my art professors told me about his “folder of rejections”. It was a huge, stuffed folder that he kept. Over the years he collected every letter of refusal he received and put it in this folder. He is a successful artist today, but he assured me that for each time he got accepted for an exhibition or a job, he probably got rejected 10 times or more. Sometimes it can be very hard to take a rejection or a failure. You start questioning everything, asking yourself why you didn’t choose another career and worry that all your hard work ends in despair. Don´t be afraid to fail, don´t let it bring you down, there will be a next time and it will be worth it!

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7. HAVE FUN!

The best way to produce good work is to enjoy doing it. It will be easy for you to work hard and a lot if it doesn´t just feel like work. This works best if you can create a surrounding that comforts you. Make yourself a home in your studio and work close to people you like! I have always shared my studio with other artists. It was the best way to stay motivated when I got lost in my process, or when I was tired. I can ask my mates for suggestions and I even learn while trying to help them. If you talk, discuss, dream and phantasize together, your ideas will float and flourish in a way you can never achieve if you just sit by yourself. It is fun to work until late if you can have little breaks together and encourage each other to go on for one more hour.

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8. JOIN FORCES

Since April 2016 I am a Member of Atelier Stoss im Himmel. We are 8 artists that share a workspace and have a common exhibition space, where we have a showroom and organize shows. It is a beautiful space, equipped with all the tools we need to work and the possibility to split duties and responsibilities. None of us could afford anything close to this by themselves and of course, it is much more fun together.

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Lena Grabher is a Vienna-based contemporary jeweler. She started her education in Vienna where she accomplished her apprenticeship examination as a goldsmith. She completed her BFA degree in Florence at ALCHIMIA contemporary jewelry school in 2013, to continue her studies in Metals at the State University of New York at New Paltz, where she received her MFA in May 2015. Since 2016 she is a Member of Atelier STOSSimHIMMEL and teaches gold and silversmithing techniques at the Wiener Goldschmiedelehrgang. Lena has developed an experimental way of working that is driven by an urge to discover and explore the subject of jewelry on many levels. Her latest work is entitled DIPLOPIA and was currently awarded with the prestigious Eligius – Schmuckpreis.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Polene, 2015, wood.

Weapons of Perfection, Lilian Mattuschka’s show in Florence and her graduate project for her MFA with Alchimia, was finely curated. It took place at Chiasso Perduto, an exhibition space in Florence open to different disciplines.

Here are a few things we have learned from her exhibition.

If you have a very characterized space, clean it as much as possible of any unnecessary element and play and relate to its architecture. Using a minimum amount of outsourced material (pedestals or anything of the like) will create a more organic relation between your pieces and the architecture.

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Exhibithion view.

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Exhibition view.

When your collection has a rhythm, one of those rhythms that contribute to creating a narrative, do try to emphasize it and give it a form. The legibility of your artistic intentions will be enriched by it.

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Exhibition view.

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Handle, 2016, wood.

Play with your business card or any other additional element of the show. Thinking artistically or curatorially about every aspect of the exhibition is paramount if you want to seduce your audience (and above all potential client).

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Business-cards as smile-mask.

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Exhibithion view.

If your work has a certain variety, do support that with different display methods. Here, video alternates with jewelry, the latter presented in many ways that followed form. “Some were shown in nicchie, others just on the wall, hanging from the ceiling with transparent fill, some were flying, some others were shown in boxes similar to those you would use to store weapons. Also the videos were all shown in different ways: on a computer screen, projected on a mapped wall, or in a little framed iPad. The exhibition was really playing with opposites, the pieces that were speaking of impositions or encourage physical corrections were the ones flying; they seemed like birds, or angels”.

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Silenziatore, 2016, video coming along a jewelry piece by the same title. Made in collaboration with Piero Aricó.

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Weapons of Perfection, 2016, realized in collabiration with Luca Maoceri. Performers: Giulietta Evans, Andrea Bertocci, Flavia Bardelloni, Benedetta Rustici, Piero Aricó and Viola Mattuschka.

Give a lot of thought to the way you use light. Lilian here decided to work with very low lights, to emphasize the material qualities of the wood and dramatize the space by playing with their shadows.

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Die Armee, 2016, installation, wood.

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Die Armee, 2016, installation, wood.

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Polene, 2015, wood.

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Smile, 2016, plexiglass-wood-iron.

Remember to create a space for reading, drinking and talking outside of the exhibition (or at least so in winter) if you want the exhibition to be a more silent space of contemplation.

And do mind: openings are for quick chats, while it is the following days that more engaged conversations can happen. So be there for the duration of the show if you can!

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Exhibition view.

Article originally posted at Alchimia – How to Make an Exhibition (in Florence) #2 Lillian Mattuschka