MARJORIE SIMON - JEWELER WRITER EDUCATOR

News

SITE EFFECTS

Created 2019 for international invitational exhibition SITE EFFECTS: Jewelry On Both Sides of the Atlantic, curated by Katja Toporski and Anja Eichler.

Opening January 16, 2020 at Bayerischen Kunstgewerbevereins, Munich.

Opening April 23, 2020, Philadelphia Art Alliance, Philadelphia, PA USA.

Anodyne

Jewelry and garments. Mild steel, 14k gold, pearls, coral, textile. Photo: Ken Yanoviak

It sometimes feels impossible to make art while grieving but making is a bulwark against despair. During times of mourning I turn to botanicals and floral imagery.

No less than any close personal loss, the 2016 election plunged me into mourning. Anodyne provided a balm, as well as a talisman, to accompany me through an increasingly depressing landscape.

Now, when the morning papers bring news worse than what seemed possible the day before, only flowers can save me.

With this decorative, ornamental, most definitely supplemental jewelry and clothing, I can face anything. Through creating and wearing them, I can have what I seek on dark days, “some kind of remnant of the ability to shimmer.” (attributed to Robert Musil).

Wild In The City

Neckpiece. Brass, vitreous enamel on embossed copper, leather. Chain 152.4cm, houses appr. 7.5cm x 4cm x 4cm. Photo: Ken Yanoviak.

In Munich I saw a building completely covered with vines. It looked like a Yeti in the square, a wild thing reclaiming its space.

One winter day I passed a building in Philadelphia that was covered in vines. Not the luxuriant growth of the Munich building, the tracery became an image bank of drawings for metalwork, embroidery, and unnamed future projects.

Thinking about nature reclaiming her space, I decided to use the line quality of that image to imprint my own buildings, referencing the delicate balance of human habitation–the refuge of home, and the vulnerability of dwellings on a ticking clock. Living in the city I may be starved for green, but too much wilderness is unsettling too. We may well fear nature’s revenge for the horrible way we’ve treated her.

“Wild” is a percussive piece. When worn, the hollow glass-coated metal houses echo tiny cowbells as they move against the brass chain.

Houses and Barracks / Housing and Warehousing

The inspiration for “Houses and Barracks/Housing and Warehousing” evolved over more than a year’s time. In the spirit of “start with what you know,” I return to a house theme when beginning a new body of work. Though it may change over time, connection to Home is universal.

The sequence of events went something like this: At the Bauhaus Museum in Tel Aviv I was taken with colorful workingmen’s houses designed by architect Bruno Taut, forced to leave Germany by the early 1930s. On a creative retreat I talked with noted woodworker Wendy Maruyama, who was beginning her monumental “Tag Project,” an installation deaijng with the American detention camps created to house Japanese citizens during WWII. While researching images of abandoned buildings I was struck by the similarity in structures used to house prisoners at Auschwitz and Manzanar. Despite the obvious historical differences between the two locations, the architecture for warehousing human beings was all too similar.

I began constructing peaked-roof dwellings that were folded up from a single sheet of metal, using vitreous enamel for permanent, rich color. Stitching them together at the seam gave a surgical as well as domestic subtext, and was also a sign that they had been fabricated by hand. Acid etching the enameled surface created a desired chalky finish, which was echoed in the gessoed acrylic tiles that form the modular base.

Then an unexpected layer of meaning came into the work. I had been looking for a way to reconcile the extremes of culture and destruction in a single country in the 20th century. Riding the train from Munich to Dachau in 2014, I noticed the landscape was dotted with small, colorful, peaked-roof houses, much like the ones I had been making. The geographical and cultural proximity of these structures concretized the cognitive dissonance with which I was struggling.

On yet another level, I had long tried to address the Holocaust in my work, but jewelry was not the way. At the same time, as the work evolved, I realized that it also expressed all types of personal loss, abandonment, and even aging.

Installation

Edifice

Buildings that were included in the Edifice Exhibition at Snyderman/Works Gallery, Philadelphia, represent a second generation of dwellings that followed the original Houses and Barracks. On the same theme, the buildings are a bit lighter in spirit, with more color, and often lacking the pierced windows and doors which haunt the original ones.

Paper Bag Houses

This light-hearted group of smaller houses accompanies the other groupings, but without the devastating backstory. The vines and floral motifs take us into the land of the living. They are more purely about the joy of making: the embossed copper foil is folded over like a paper bag.

CONTACT MARJORIE SIMON

CONTACT