Maker x Maker with Alicia Goodwin (Week 2)
Maker x Maker with Alicia Goodwin (Week 2)
Artists from our community introduce you to the makers they adore.
Maker x Maker is a platform for artists to showcase other makers they admire. In this round, Chicago-based jewelry artist Alica Goodwin shares a shortlist of some of her favorite Black makers for you to follow, offering an inside look at their work from the perspective of a fellow artist.
We'll add a new artist to the list each day, so be sure to check back.
About the curator
Alicia is a Chicago-based jeweler who specializes in creating textures loosely based on the randomness of nature. Her work incorporates simple shapes with deep patterns in metal, creating dimensional and functional art. The work is also inspired by Meso American gold adornment as well as mourning jewelry of the Victorian era. Her love of craft knows no bounds and can be seen in her detailed, rich work.
Check out Alicia's Inside the Artist's Studio video.
With the many awards and ceremonies for works on paper, it’s apparent that a countless number of us humans share an affinity for prose. We laud the author or speaker who pours out words in what seem like an effortless motion that makes sense to the masses. Do you ever think of the fragments themselves as art, to appreciate and recognize those few words as much as the entire passage or book? Roachele Negron has a special eye when it comes to words and all things literary. With her ever-popular pennants, she puts a few words on display, for positive intent, for power.
Pennants, usually large and heavy to withstand time and weather, have been used throughout the decades and centuries to convey identity, to relay a message to crowds, to get the word out. Through her work, it’s easy to see how a few words quickly can become a mantra for all to say, such as “Let the Work Speak,” “Black Lives Matter,” or “It’s Good You Are Here.” Raochele pulls the words and thoughts from great writers such as Toni Morrison, Lucille Clifton, and Audre Lorde and places them on a handstitched canvas pennant, unbleached, smooth but sturdy. The letters are made of soft black felt and are meticulously placed by hand, one by one, to form the words that inspire. Her pennants are meant to be placed on a wall, displayed for all or for none. The size of the canvas is large enough to see the words from a distance, small enough to possibly keep the message to yourself. I think that’s what I like the most about her work: the message is both public and private all at once.
Full disclosure: I majored in fashion design in college before I found my love of jewelry and metals. Seeing the beautiful knit creations from fiber artist Charlotte Hess of Isobel & Cleo reminds me of what my life might have looked like if I chose knitwear instead of ready-to-wear as a specialization. Happily, this artist stayed on the right path, passing her thoughts and ideas down to her hands. With the assistance of a knitting machine, Charlotte marries a standard knit silhouette, such as a cardigan or tank top, into something more fashionable with high quality yarns made with cotton, silk, or cashmere and beautiful, subtle patterns. To the untrained eye, the machine looks complex, like a portable keyboard for fiber, inviting only the most knowledgeable of knitters into its presence. From it, with a back-and-forth action of her steady arms, individual strands of yarn become fabric – wearable art.
Charlotte’s work is more like an experience, as you have this beautiful garment that you also can wear or display, touch or have it hold you. We all have that moment when we wear clothing that makes us feel a certain way – warm, held, secure. The softness of the material along with her gorgeous patterns for clothing make each piece very desirable. Pair that with the moody photographs of her and her work, and it’s clear to see why her garments are in such demand.
Being a jeweler, I tend to focus on a smaller scale of metal – something portable, wearable, easy to move from place to place. Looking at the work of Kristine Mays reminds me that there is a whole other world in our universe of alloys and ore, where scale has no boundaries and where one can manipulate wire into an airy silhouette, a dreamscape. Kristine sculpts full human figures from wire, bent, woven, worked, and hardened into place, time stopped in that motion that she controls. With the obvious beauty of the forms she creates, which range from clothing to human figures to adornment such as crowns, she invites the viewer to look around the sculpture, through it, in it. I applaud anyone who can make something so heavy seem featherweight at the same time. The weight of the metal fades away, leaving the viewer a familiar figure either placed on a wall or suspended in time, with light and air passing through like thoughts.
With many of her sculptures focusing on the civil rights movements of the day such as the Black Lives Matter and Me Too Movements, it’s truly incredible to see how powerful metal wire can become in the hands of a true artist. We all have a chance to use our voice and our hands to make change, and I truly admire another metalsmith doing it in such a beautiful and unique way.
Obviously, I love craft. I love the hand that is seen in an original item, the work that is shown in each stitch, each piece of material. Craft is that extra step – extra care from an artist that often we need to take more time to see. Wilbur Pack is the maker behind the pop art leather accessory brand, SK WiLBUR (it stands for Sorta, Kinda Wilbur). With the flavor of New York City as his inspiration and the vibrant style of graffiti and various other forms of handwritten messages displayed in public places everywhere, Wilbur makes his work portable art. He mixes soft, colorful leather with the most sturdy canvas to create functional pieces – pieces that can 100 percent stand out in a crowd and also serve you from day to day.
I love how personal each of Wilbur's pieces is. From being able to customize a bag with your choice of leather to even adding your own photo front and center on a “selfie bag," Wilbur invites the on-the-go person to add a fun option to their everyday tote. Each item is so unique and so very Wilbur. I find that, as a maker, it might be hard to find your way to “fit” in this world – to have your own distinct style, something that everyone might know you for. When I see an SK WiLBUR bag on the street, I never have a doubt who made it or how amazing the person carrying the bag might be!
Looking at ceramicist Monty J’s work shuttles me to another place – a place not yet created, or possibly here right now but in another portal we have yet to discover. This otherworld is full of small creatures with many eyes or stilt-like legs and odd-shaped bodies. Monty goes for bulbous bottoms and long necks, hands without arms, and misshapen heads with no faces to round out his striking work. I imagine each one of his “critters” walking up to me from a lush forest floor, brushing up against my ankles, my skin feeling the cool touch of hardened clay and glaze. How does one even make things as magical as he does?
Every piece Monty creates is just as dynamic as the last, with extra care taken to achieve the best possible outcome. I see these functional sculptures as his children, all created by him and his hands, now set out into the world to lift a mood or spirit. Some of his creations carry lives of their own, with small openings on the tops or sides for living plants to thrive and grow. His work is just as quirky and organic as nature itself and moves even when still.
Ron Nicole Robinson
I hope you are starting to see a theme across the selection of artists I am choosing to introduce you to: a collection of works, no matter the medium, the artist comfortable making it their own, a unique curation. Artist Ron Nicole is well known for her mastery at gathering beauty around her and preserving its silhouette in clay, plaster, and paper – a fine art fossil of sorts, preserving beauty in time. When I say gather, I mean it literally: Ron uses her expansive garden of small flowers that are native to the land she lives on as a palette for her reliefs.
Ron's work is ever evolving yet sits still in time all at once, as you can look back on her past wall hangings and see how the play of different colors and flowers of the season evolved into the work she currently creates. Falling in love with artists as they are moving in their practice is a wonderful thing to observe (versus finding an artist centuries later), as you are seeing their process in real time, wondering if they will someday create something totally different from what they currently offer. To meet demand for her hard-to-acquire works in plaster, Ron creates her own paper reliefs, from beginning to end, pulp and all. One can still enjoy the “preserved in time” quality of her more substantial works while being afforded the opportunity to hold and have something a little less time-intensive (but not by much!) for their collection. I like to think of her work as so in harmony with nature it just fits right in, even in plaster form.
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