embodiment jewelry exhibition: slusser gallery, september 21 to october 19, 2012

EmbodimentRanging from conceptual wearable sculpture to refined one-of-a kind contemporary jewelry, this curated jewelry and metals exhibition examines the concept of embodiment: to give concrete form to an idea, to make corporeal, and to embrace.

If you happen to be in Ann Arbor, Michigan tonight, the reception at the Jean Paul Slusser Gallery of the University of Michigan School of Art & Design is from 6-9pm.

Here is what I submitted for the exhibition:

"Muirhead Road" © Naomi Muirhead 2012
“Muirhead Road”: sterling silver, coral, thread, text transfer, acrylic paint, resin, liver of sulfur, 59x35mm (46cm chain), 2012 © Naomi Muirhead

Embodiment: {Body + Mind and Memory + Place} = Person

As an expat living far away, I am visualizing the area where I grew up, the plan of the land, and the street named after my great-grandfather as one of the 1st settlers in the area: Muirhead Road, my road, my bloodline. In imagining our farm from a birds-eye view, the composition resembles a vessel, and that which is essentially a container of parts, pathways, of organs, memory and the soul. This symbolic body mapping represents my childhood, as it relates to a specific physical place and embodies my being and sense of self, a map to my soul. Roads give direction to destinations, and a creek runs through. At the heart of this place is a town named after Plato, thus, the philosophy of Plato and his ideas of community and worthiness related to the land is represented with text – the intellectual within visceral boundaries, a combination of heart and mind.

“Muirhead Road”: sterling silver, coral, thread, text transfer, acrylic paint, resin, liver of sulfur, 59x35cm (46cm chain), 2012 © Naomi Muirhead

Recently the family farmland has been converted into a forest preserve for public access. Although a respectful decision, rather than selling out to infectious new housing subdivisions that are spreading in the area like a disease, I feel I have lost that personal and private attachment to this specific land and territory now that it has become public. In addition, distance and time seem to erase direct associations to my childhood. As living beings, we come from the earth and eventually return to it, but in this case, I am not returning to my land.

Coming to understand what is left of my place, what remains as a corporeal hereditament is the house where I grew up for 22 years, still more than half of my life. But what remains of the 1850’s farm house is a decrepit, abandoned building which was once the place, the physical container of my life. The building and its rooms with definable spaces, contained with furniture and memories have become unoccupied. Inheritance is the tangible sum of what is passed from one family ownership to another kin. Having been handed ruins, they are constantly reconstructed in my memory, existing in photos and in my consciousness, recurrent in my dreams and nightmares. What physically remains represents loss and disappointment. The actual walls and invisible boundaries of protection of my intimate world have fallen down.

"Home" © Naomi Muirhead 2012
“Home”: sterling silver, plexiglass, resin, metallic pigment, liver of sulfur, 33x57mm, 2012 © Naomi Muirhead

“Home”: sterling silver, plexiglass, resin, metallic pigment, liver of sulfur, 33x57cm, 2012 © Naomi Muirhead

From my memory, I have reconstructed the house based on the 2 floor plans. The Home brooch is a tangible object I can hold in my hands and represents where my body once existed, now only existing in my memory. Each room is a container of physical habits, motion, and sentiment — all parts of the whole, a phenomena that relates to the body. Resin is occupying some spaces, preserving and protecting, but the transparency allows a visual path to the wearer. One area is obscured as most private family lives are hidden from outside the home, only sometimes visible externally from a voyeuristic view through a window pane. Other areas are embellished with sparkle and the idyllic memories, with a metallic element the color of earth suggesting a false solidity.

"Head, Heart, & Hand" © Naomi Muirhead 2012
“Head, Heart, & Hand”: sterling silver, copper, image transfer, resin, liver of sulfur, 60x35mm, 2012 © Naomi Muirhead

“Head, Heart, & Hand”: sterling silver, copper, image transfer, resin, liver of sulfur, 60x35mm, 2012 © Naomi MuirheadIn Head, Heart, & Hand, the cellular structure of our bodies depends on the make up of our genes, our genetic history, our DNA. My grandfather was born in his house where he lived until he was 96. He was a farmer; his life and livelihood was connected to the land, just as those grand old oak trees found all over the property. His wife was the heart and hands of the family, holding it all together with her embrace. Many memories of them, some based on photos, become more and more fragmented with the passage of time. Their presence was a formidable part of my childhood which affected who I have become. Their characteristics are embodied in their ancestors. It is a family tree that continues to expand and unfold into various directions, but always rooted to the earth. Our memories of them and their stories are retained in our recollection and can only continue living if we recount them to others, keeping them vivid and focused. Without them, we would never have become to exist.

"Homage to the Farmer’s Wife (Grandma)" © Naomi Muirhead 2012
“Homage to the Farmer’s Wife (Grandma)”: Sterling silver, copper, fabric, thread, vintage stocking clip, acrylic paint, liver of sulfur, 96x38mm, 2012 © Naomi Muirhead

“Homage to the Farmer’s Wife (Grandma)”: Sterling silver, copper, fabric, thread, vintage stocking clip, acrylic paint, liver of sulfur, 96x38mm, 2012 © Naomi MuirheadIn my grandparent’s room hung an oval white plaster silhouette portrait in relief of my grandmother, a physical representation of her image. In Homage to the Farmer’s Wife (Grandma), her silhouette is framed and protected, not fully visible, obscured by a flexible fabric containment, the fabric of life. Or perhaps, there she is trapped. In any case, she is honored here, in a feminine way with a small practical tool used by most women of her era – a tool which helped restrict the body in a sense, by strapping on stockings simulating the even-toned whitish-pinkish skin a delicate woman should have, despite common marks of nature, yet striving to retain purity (physical or mental). A hint of sewing is suggested as a feminine task, one that makes clothing of a material nature that conform and cover the body.

In this body of 4 works (to be continued), I have unintentionally begun from a further, more removed distance and progressively became more focused, close-up, and intimate. This approach suggests a deeper and more defined exploration of the initial perspective. Its almost as if I have taken a return flight to the place and dug around in my memory which was awakened by visual images and recollections of the past. Each of the pieces have a distinctive framing device which can be seen as both compositional and conceptual – an enclosure of space and of contents.

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2 thoughts on “embodiment jewelry exhibition: slusser gallery, september 21 to october 19, 2012

  1. […] The found image turned into a brooch/pendant made in sterling silver with resin over the photograph. It was, after all, someone’s home sweet home. On the back side is a classic quote from Pliny the Elder (A.D. 23 -79): La casa è dove si trova il cuore (home is where the heart is). Incidentally, he also once said, In vino veritas (see cufflinks). See more pieces related to the home series. […]

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