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Pushing Boundaries and Ignoring the Gatekeepers

Lately I've been really into this idea of pushing the boundaries of what and how jewelry should be made.


I've always questioned what it is that we value, or dub, as jewelry and if I'm honest, it all feels very limiting. A major part of what I do is to push those limitations the furthest they can go and explore all that comes with it.


Why are we so stuck? Why are we conforming to the norms that high-end, well-made jewelry is only to be made of precious metals and gemstones?


I've been faced with these questions since I started my business because I incorporated beadwork with metalwork. I was told repeatedly that beadwork would never sell, or I wouldn't be accepted into markets or galleries because I used beads.


It doesn't make sense to me. Beads are some of the most important objects in human history. After cave paintings, the thing that came next were beads. Human beings have always held reverence to beads because they either symbolized a natural force, or were worn to project status.


I'll also never understand why the gatekeepers (ie market jurors and gallerists) don't want to push the envelope when it comes to jewelry and materiality. Don't we attend markets and view galleries in order to be surprised? To be introduced to new ideas?


The pandemic revealed something within me that made me realize that I wasn't being true to my work. I pulled all of my work out of galleries and decided to do without markets for a while just to see what I could create without the influence of the commercialized art world.


Admittedly, this decision has been much harder than I imagined. I thought that I'd immediately be able to free myself mentally from the art world, but there are some very ingrained habits that have made it hard to shake.


Working on these last few pairs of earrings felt like the first step that I've been able to take without thinking about these outside influences. And that means that it's taken me over a year or so to let go mentally.


Anyway, I'm very excited for this latest project of miniature oil paintings. They will be a process and take a while to fully dry before I can turn them into earrings, but my goodness it feels SO good to try something new and see where it'll take me.


Here's a peek from yesterday. Thanks so much for reading and take care,

Caitlin