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Intro to the Vanitas Collection

To kick off 2022, and to celebrate my pregnancy journey, I wanted to put out a body of work that would not only mark this time in my life but also lead us into a new chapter for AyC. I'm not someone to celebrate my personal life with fancy parties, but I do love when my creativity reflects what is happening in my life.


I began the Vanitas Collection by simply making work that would honor my baby. Becoming a mother was something that always kind of scared me, but then there was a turning point where I suddenly felt very empowered. My pregnancy journey went from being difficult to learning how to work around my new changes and pushing forward in unexpected ways. It's become an extremely joyful process, one where I was laughing a lot, feeling super inspired and motivated, and allowing my ideas to develop fully. I used all of that energy towards this collection and while I had no idea what this was going to look like, for once I didn't question what I was making.


Without a clue of what was going to unfold, after a few months of working on projects, I noticed that I was creating pieces that were centered around the Vanitas art genre. Vanitas is a rather dark theme, and I was surprised at first that this collection was focused on the use of these symbols and motifs.


So what is Vanitas? It is a reflection on the futility of life. It essentially means that we are vain (vanitas) enough to believe that we can outlive anything, but the reality is that in an instant everything can be taken from us. This can be our own life, this can be our wealth, this can be our health, and often still life painters would combine images of luxury goods (imported fruits, animals, instruments) with a skull or something representative of death.


It felt totally weird to be attracted this genre at such a time, but upon some reflection, it also seemed apropos. In an instant, the 'old' me was gone the second I found out I was pregnant. I stepped into a new creative process only to let go of some of my older, and less effective, tendencies. We are in the middle of a pandemic, something that will define this generation forever, and it was this unseeable virus that created such grief and anger and forced us to suddenly let go of our old selves.


Death is so scary and so sad, but yet we celebrate the lives of our loved ones and hold on to their memories so there's this unusual balance between sadness and joy. I wanted to make pieces that would quite literally force us all to reflect on our lives, how lucky we are to have survived this pandemic, to survive harder times, and to be grateful for the loved ones who will/have come and go/gone. That's the one thing I want to teach my child more than anything, to not take a single moment for granted and understand that the good has just as much importance as the bad because it teaches us that we have to be grateful for what we have.


That is why I am proud of this work. I purposely wanted to enjoy it, and instill joy into each piece so that when you wear it, you'll feel that deeper sense of empowerment. Art has the power to move people, and I have at times found myself completely in awe before a painting, absorbing every detail, and analyzing the care and passion that went into the work just so it could live on for future generations.


Miniature oil paintings do have that effect. Many of the pieces for this new collection have a painted element, or I added a handmade detail with silver that would somehow pull you into the work. It was important to me that you felt drawn to a piece, and could cherish it, so not only do some of the motifs reflect this Vanitas genre but everything from the paint strokes to the metalsmithing techniques were designed to connect with you.


Here's a peek at some of the new work:



In this collection, you'll find pieces that reflect the luxury goods that I spoke about above (images like parrots, coral, imported flowers), along with patterns that you'd see in Italian cathedrals like the gorgeous marble flooring, and just a few pieces with skulls. I used a lot of high-quality gemstones (pieces I selected myself at a supplier's in Santa Fe), combined them with enamel and/or oil paintings, and surrounded each piece with sterling silver. Some of the reverse of the works reveal a 22k gold leaf detail, something that I've taught myself for this collection and really adds to the final result of some of these designs.


I became meticulous about which pieces will be a part of this collection and had to walk away from some projects that were good but weren't screaming HONOR THE NEW CHAPTER, HONOR YOUR PASSION, etc, etc. I focused entirely on earrings (both hook and post) and pendants. I've made a total of 38 pieces, with a wide variety of sizes, and I hope you discover a piece that calls to you.


The new collection will become available at the end of this month. I am so excited to share this with you and thank you for joining me for yet another collection. You'll hear from me soon.


Much love,

Caitlin