Sum & Substance: Teresa Faris

Sum & Substance: Teresa Faris

Teresa Faris Collaboration With A Bird IV 4

Collaboration with a Bird IV, #4, 2015, sterling silver, wood altered by a bird, 18k gold, 4 x 4.5 x .5 in.; Photo: Teresa Faris

Teresa Faris has an unusual partner in her jewelry practice: a cockatoo. The bird chews wood pieces, and Faris incorporates those in her metal forms. The result, says Susie Ganch: “Pieces of jewelry with specificity and detail that are immediately intriguing, interesting, and beautiful.”

Her training: I went to graduate school at the University of Wisconsin- Madison and studied under Fred Fenster and Eleanor Moty. After graduating, I studied with master goldsmith and stone-setter John Strobel. I feel as if I chose the best possible scenario for instruction. Fred is a masterful technician, Eleanor is a groundbreaking conceptual thinker, and John is a worldrenowned craftsman and jewelry designer.

What makes her work unique: Working in collaboration with a non-human. Using metal, I respond to wooden objects that have been altered by a captive bird. Through this process, I have learned more deeply about connectedness, likeness, difference, marginalization, superstition, and anthropomorphism. I have witnessed non-humans performing repetitive movements, and I wonder if they find the same soothing aftereffects that I am rewarded with when working at the bench.

Her artistic influences: Yoko Ono and Karl Fritsch. I remember researching Ono’s “instruction paintings” when I was a young student, and they were the first works of art that made sense to me conceptually. At that moment I understood the importance of congruous material and content. Karl Fritsch’s work is the epitome of that.

Her biggest challenge: Sometimes I make myself a ring or a pair of earrings as a way to turn off the constant rationalizing and judgment needed to make a piece “just right.” Sometimes we need to research/read/write, and sometimes we need to make. I struggle with having those things happen simultaneously.

Her biggest reward: The making of pieces that drive me forward intellectually and skillfully. Collaboration with a Bird II, #15, was one of those pieces. For me it is about working on something long enough that things begin to naturally morph. The imagery and process become authentic.