Saturday, December 14, 2013

Rite of Spring in Winter

I recently started listening to Stravinsky's Rite of Spring and found myself incredibly moved by the Pina Bausch-choreographed version of the ballet.

When Stravinsky's piece was first performed in 1913 with Vaslav Nijinsky's choreography, half of the audience hated it so much that they laughed and jeered and threw rotten vegetables at the dancers and musicians. Forty people had to be removed by police from the concert hall. The piece doesn't sound so strange to modern ears, but I imagine at the time it must have been like dissonant noise to people used to music with a discernible melody.

The piece tells the story of young men and women participating in an ancient pagan ritual, which descends into a bacchanalian frenzy and ultimately ends with one woman being chosen as the sacrifice to Spring. The last seven minutes of the half-hour long piece is called "Sacrificial Dance" and it just shreds me apart!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

New Home

I've survived my first week at West Dean College with spirits high and self-esteem intact! Though there have been a few snags (mostly to do with my housing situation, hopefully to be resolved tomorrow- leaky ceiling in first room, persistent and strong odor of cat piss in second and current room), it's hard to feel anything other than grateful and excited when one lives and studies in a place that looks like this:

And of course, the interior is as impressive as the exterior promises:

More soon!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Prince Philippe and Baroque Love Songs

As one often does when one is procrastinating (in my case, from packing to move to England), I found myself in a section of youtube that I little expected to be. Discovered an incredible French countertenor named Philippe Jaroussky.

Here was the first video I stumbled into- a Vivaldi aria called Vedro con mio diletto:

Damn. I like how he sings "l'alma dell'alma mia" (soul of my soul) in the second half, with that little lilt.

And then, I found this video of Prince Philippe singing with French-Canadian contralto Marie-Nicole Lemieux, whose velvety, dulcet tones meld so perfectly with his. So sensual it's almost obscene. This is Pur ti miro by Monteverdi from a 17th century opera about the pyromaniac tyrant Nero and his ruthless and calculating lover Poppaea. This opera totally goes the opposite route of a morality play, with these illicit lovers triumphing over everyone who tries to stand in their way of being together. And not only that- they get such a sensual, gorgeous love duet at the end. But I guess the dramatic irony of knowing that Nero kicked Poppaea to death after the story ends just makes it more bittersweet?

Material Witness

Two of my pieces from my most recent body of work The Feast and The Fast will be on display at the Dalton Gallery of Agnes Scott College in Georgia for a juried group exhibition called Material Witness. I'm excited to see the work of the others featured in this show, since the theme is one that is close to my heart and mind as an artist- how women creatively carve out meaningful spaces for themselves within the world.

I look forward also to the full-color catalog that will be published!

From the call for entries:
"Material Witness seeks to broadly represent artwork defining our time. Organized by the Georgia chapter of the Women’s Caucus for Art in collaboration with Agnes Scott College, the exhibit will present the perspective of women artists from across the United States working in a variety of media. Through their art they process the world around them, their work becoming a document of these times."  

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Gorgeous Gorgets

Here are a couple of new pieces inspired by the gorget and pauldron sections on a suit of armor!

Gorgets were metal or leather collars that protected a knight's throat while pauldrons protected the shoulders. In this Rembrandt painting below, the man is wearing only his gorget- perhaps a reference to his military background or maybe just a way to add some texture to his outfit? Either way, I love how the gorget stands so snugly up around the neck, like a piece of protective jewelry.

This illustration of French medieval armor shows some curved pauldrons that stand up vertically at the edges, designed to repel attacks on the neck. Very useful when you're doing some swordplay on the battlefield, but also just an elegant design.

My collar and bracelet inspired by these pieces of armor are available at Velouria right now. They will likely be one of a kind designs, since I probably won't embellish the panels in exactly the same way again.

You won't be protected from swords or axes in my Gorget Collar, but it will show off your neck and shoulders to terrific advantage!

Gorget neckpiece. $220.

Gorget bracelet. $115.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Mighty Metalsmiths at Tieton Mini Maker Faire!

I will be at the Tieton Mini Maker Faire next Saturday with a crew of awesome jewelry artists and metalsmiths: Lori Talcott, Naomi Landig, Jana Brevick, and Julia Heineccius. We'll be demonstrating metalsmithing techniques: drawing wire, soldering, piercing, engraving, and more. Mark your schedules: there will be a different demo every hour! 

Plus, lots of beautiful, handmade jewelry will be for sale. Naomi and I are making dragon-scaled jewelry (like the brooches we made for George R. R. Martin that he wears on his hat) so you can show the world your allegiance to House Targaryen.  

Don't miss this event- It will be so much fun. A road race through the streets with handbuilt cycle carts that look like vintage race cars. A chance to help make the world's largest piece of felt. Fandango music and dance in the evening. Batik and indigo dying and knitting. Chai-making. Mosaics.  

Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


A BIG thank you to Le Dandysme for the thoughtful review of "Catch and Release"!

Being an artist is often such a solitary activity; sometimes I feel like a naked mole rat- all pale and socially awkward from being holed up all the time. It's nice to get feedback from people about the weird things I make.

One of the things I did with this body of work was try to get people to overcome their initial disgust of the hairy material by creating lots of details nestled in the pieces, so that one would have to get in close to see the whole picture. That's why I really liked this part of the review:

"The collar’s clasp is pierced with the image of a flea, the opposing side, a cluster of flea eggs. The hair from which the collar is made feels scratchier, the pedestal is messy with loose bits of hair, and the urge to take a step back becomes stronger... Her craft is immaculate, all of the pieces exquisitely detailed, especially on their reverse sides."

The physical body is such a ghostly presence in these pieces, since they're not fully complete until someone is wearing them, performing in them. The experience of wearing them and other people's reactions to the wearer is an important part of the pieces. I'm planning a photoshoot soon- so watch this space!  

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Catch and Release

Jana Brevick, Dorothy Cheng, Kimber Leblicq, Tara Brannigan

Saturday 9 March, 6-9 pm

LxWxH Gallery
6007 12th Ave. S
Seattle, WA 98108

through Saturday 30 March until 3 pm, by appointment only

Catch and Release is a group show about sculpture and the body, featuring pieces that might be extremely uncomfortable, impractical, or impossible to wear. The inspiration behind this collection of work was to play on the idea that jewelry can create a kind of armor, whether actual or psychological, or that it is used as a sort of plumage to display wealth or power. Often the collection will demonstrate the tension between opposites: attraction/repellent, caress/recoil, fragile/indestructible, natural/synthetic, and so on. The title plays on the function of jewelry's hardware, utilizing some sort of hook or clasp; while encapsulating the concept of the show.

Fountain -
by Dorothy Cheng
human hair, wool, glass beads, thread

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Theresa ring.

This ring is one of my favorite custom pieces ever. It was commissioned by a client celebrating the recent publication of her latest book- a volume on medieval queenship (a subject I am rather obsessed with). I can't wait to get my hands on that book!

The gemstones are garnet and amethyst cabochons: two stones that featured prominently in medieval jewelry. The reddish-purple color of the garnet made it much sought after by Byzantine royalty and Germanic tribes in the early Middle Ages, for whom the hue signified power and prestige. Amethysts were thought to prevent drunkenness and protect warriors going into battle. Very useful indeed!

I love the idea of marking important life milestones with pieces of jewelry, in addition to the customary engagement/wedding rings. Wearable objects are such potent reminders- to be proud of our own individual life journeys and of our professional and personal accomplishments that don't always get much societal validation.