For nearly eight years, I’ve broken up my studio work days by enjoying healthy vegetarian soups at lunch. One afternoon I realized that these pre-packaged containers holding the soup ingredients are so sturdy and well-made to survive the hot temps of the microwave; its fibrous housing appears so pristine in its ivory, “sheet-like” material. After noticing these were designed to be cast off and thrown away, I started preparing my soups in a true ceramic/handmade bowl while saving these ivory-like beauties to take into the studio. The circular ornaments that surround and define this cameo wall relief are hand-sawed, pierced and filed into organic forms reminiscent of textile patterns by using traditional metalsmithing techniques. I delicately hand-sew these pieces and permanently attach them to the photograph with black thread to create a cameo. I refer to my new raw material as a “socially-conscious ivory”.
NO genuine ivory is used, only the left-over fiber materials that I transform into decorative artwork instead of landfill fodder. With these disposable soup containers and lids designed and cut/pierced by hand, I hope to transform it into a precious object and thereby prevent its disposal. In the French-Georgian period of history, creating vignettes with micro-ivory scenes was a popular artistic practice and quite elaborate especially due to its miniature scale.
The photograph of the woman in-profile is captured by me digitally and manipulated with a filter; the subject’s pose holding her hair and ballet-like hand gesture is reminiscent of popular Victorian-era portraiture. By placing a rectangular portrait behind this created oval “frame” of ornaments, I seek to show how this female subject is worthy of more than just the viewer’s “gaze”. Her profile is obscured by her hair and not engaged in the “classic cameo” pose. While this cameo is a self-contained object, it is designed to be a wall-hung relief within the vintage frame.
I’m quite excited that this piece will be exhibited in the upcoming Shadow Box: A Group Show, curated by gallery owner Laurie Kearney at Ghost Gallery in downtown Seattle, Washington. This wonderfully diverse exhibition featuring over twenty artists is set to open on Thursday, August 13th with a reception from 5-9pm at the gallery and continue through September 3rd. Shadow Box will also be available starting in early-to-mid-August with an online preview event.