Tuesday, October 16, 2012

New Voices

 I understood love to be the very gravity holding each leaf, each cell, this earthly star together.

-Joy Harjo from The Woman Who Fell From The Sky

The excerpts I used in the last collection were primarily culled from the work of award winning Native American poet  Joy Harjo. Joy is a member of the Muskogee (Creek) Nation and of Cherokee descent.  Her book, She Had Some Horses is now considered a classic. Harjo has received several awards including the William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society in America.  It is an honor to be able to use her work.

A few months ago, a friend brought me one of Joy's poems that he found on a San Francisco bus during National Poetry Month.  I put it up on my cork board in the studio to inspire me while I designed.  See that post here. Right away I knew I wanted to put her words on jewelry. I used parts that I felt reflected on hopefulness, awakening and resiliency. It is difficult to describe poetry but N. Scott Momaday does it well in his review of She Had Some Horses,  "The poetry here is of mythic and timeless character, native and lyrical in its expression, profound in its reflection of a worldview that is at once precise and comprehensive. There is much of the oral tradition here, much that is worthy of our closest attention and deepest respect.”

--Janice Mirikitani from Breaking Silence

 I recently started using the work of San Francisco Poet Laureate, Janice Mirikitani. Janice is described as a visionary, community activist, leader, poet and editor. She is also the Founding President of the Glide Foundation in partnership with her husband Reverend Cecil Williams.  My heart was warmed to hear that she was thrilled to have her words used this way. I am not a writer so I have a deep respect for the power of words, especially poetry.  I am always deeply honored to be able to work with these very distinguished poets and translators. I look forward to using more of Janice's poetry in the next collection as we only used it on a few pieces so far. Not only is she an award winning Poet Laureate, but also because of her work and commitment to the legendary Glide Memorial Church, Mrs. Mirikitani is a bit of a local celebrity here in San Francisco and we absolutely cannot wait to meet her in person. A visit to the studio is in the works for November.

We must recognize ourselves at last.
We are a rainforest of color and noise.
We hear everything.
We are unafraid.

Our language is beautiful.

-Janice Mirikitani from Breaking Silence

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Transfix Us With Love, Make Believe, and Dark Flowers...

Transfix us with love.  --Joy Harjo from The Creation Story
As an artist sometimes I am just not ready, do not have the skill or concentration to embark on the idea that is waiting in the back spaces of my mind. One of these fascinations that has captured my imagination since childhood has to do with flowers.  My go-to-doodles were always magical, make-believe flowers, fanciful with bright red tongues and wild yellow stamens. To be honest they were a little psychadellic...and a bit phallic in hindsight.  I am fascinated with all sorts of things about  flowers:  how they move through their cycles and what exactly about them is so beautiful, which ones are my favorites and how to translate them into metal.

I decided to revisit the flower theme in my last two collections in a series of Dogwood necklaces. (See Fiore, a design from four years ago) I thought it would be interesting to capture the moment when the flower is in repose, just about to fall into decay and break apart.  

Wabi Sabi is a piece about the last part of a flower as it falls away, loosening a Tahitian pearl and tiny diamond.

Poetry is powerful; the words are short bursts of color, condensed into a sharp economy.  I like to think these dark flowers carry an ambiguous and mysterious poem all their own, completely open to interpretation as all poems are.