15th July - 26th Sept 2010

Natalya Pinchuk_Growth Series Neckpiece No 2

‘Growth Series’ necklace in wool, copper, enamel, plastic, leather, waxed thread, steel
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Natalya Pinchuk

To better explain my approach to jewelry, I would like to share a story… One day, when I was living in Texas, I was biking with my husband and we came across a huge monster truck parked in front of an apartment complex.

For two years that I lived in Texas I had violent responses to large SUVs and trucks wising by me everyday.  So to my surprise, when I saw the monster truck I was intrigued and curios.  I even saw it as a kindred spirit to my very own jewelry.  If someone actually drives this vehicle to the store to get a gallon of milk, why was I still questioning whether there was an audience for  my big ass brooches.

Ever since I became interested in jewelry, I continually question the fact that I make work that seems fairly unpractical for everyday activities.   I sit down at the bench with the intention of making something very practical and special but, in the end, the work ends up being louder than what I originally intend and at times certainly not very practical at all. Standing by the monster truck made me realize that we do not want object that are only practical but rather we want objects that are practical AND expressive, AND exhibitionist, AND communicative. It is only in its extremes that we recognize this innate desire but it is in fact pervasive through the everyday, the ordinary, the luxurious and the specialty objects.

My reasoning behind using felted wool for this work was very simple.  As mentioned before, I wanted the work to be accessible. In the context of a sweater, the clean spun wool threads are knitted together and have connotations of warmth and protection.  We easily accept it in this format.  Raw wool communicates a more primal existence, giving off associations of our own hairy outgrowths.    It references human hair yet is more approachable because it is not.   Hairy bodies are sexual bodies.  Our desire to control hair is symbolic of the undeniable need to keep at bay our animal and sexual nature.

I enjoy sketching as well as working things out in the process of making.  I am drawn to flowers, fruits and just vegetation in general. When I travel I always take snapshots of the elaborate decorative items such as chandeliers that I find in places of moral authority.  In the end, I do not copy the source materials but rather allow them to all creep into the design in a free hand sort of way, where visual forms of vegetation, chandeliers and sexual body parts merge into one.  I want the work to be akin to luscious display of fruits and deserts, decadent and saturated.

When I began working on this body of work in 2004, I combined enameled surfaces with commercial plastic flower parts.  More recently I introduced wool and leather to this jewelry. Initially, I was attracted to using plastic flowers due to their use in cemeteries, particularly in Russia, while commemorating the ultimate natural act­–death. When making the earlier brooches, I was thinking a lot about the saturation of the synthetic within the environment.  Ultimately, I was interested in the friction and blurring between the natural and the artificial while exercising my formal sensibilities.

Eventually, both the actual jewelry pieces and thoughts that inspired the work evolved. While continuing to combine plastic flower parts and enameled copper forms into miniature landscapes that are artificial and self-contained, I began thinking about the relationship between the body and the forms I was making.  Growth brooches and necklaces, from one viewpoint seemed attractive and joyful miniatures with colorful surfaces and fun plastic vegetation “growing” out of them. The same pieces however, when worn, also suggested unease because of the allusion to unfamiliar growths and developments within our bodies. In the end, I wanted these jewelry pieces to activate and emphasize that the body is a living organism, constantly changing and shifting.

Instead of a scientific exploration of actual changes in the body, I am more interested in the perceived, imagined and feared interpretations of the changes inside or around us. Upon wearing these simulated growths, the artificial becomes absorbed into the landscape of the wearer’s body.

I look at images of things that make me feel uneasy and uncomfortable, despite finding them beautiful, such as fungus, molds, snakes, insects, certain types of vegetation and much more. For several years, I visited insect collections looking at bugs under the microscope while refusing to gather scientific data and knowledge about them. I wanted to remain distant and fearful.  Lately, I prefer to closely examine images that are removed from the original source, such as drawings of snakes rather than photographs, because I am interested in alluding to the IDEA of the things that makes me uncomfortable rather than directly copying them. In the end, these are purely imagined constructions that come out of experimentation in the studio.   While they allude to natural forms and colors;  they do not correspond to anything specific.

I use colors and textures that hopefully grab viewers’ attention and bring them to the work.  The latest Growth brooches and necklaces combine crusty enameled copper surfaces with cut plastic grapes, wool, thread, leather and plastic.   I enjoy experimenting with materials and how far I can push them. For example, in this image, all of the black and green forms come from cutting artificial grapes in a variety of ways and eventually assembling them into a form. I often begin working in the studio by manipulating materials and afterwards applying the newly created forms, or knowledge about a material, to an appropriate piece that requires a particular effect.  My studio is filled with parts that I, and my assistant Amy, are constantly making and organizing.  I enjoy slowly changing this body of work by introducing new elements and forms.  I want to enjoy the process of playing and coming up with the multitude of possibilities that arise when given enough time in the sandbox.  The pieces in the Growth series were completed 2004-2008.

Biographical Details

Artists featured in IntoFlora are: Natalya Pinchuk, Russia/USA; Lisa Juen, Germany/China; Mikaela Lyons, UK;
Ana Hagopian
, Barcelona; Masayuki Nagata, Japan; Selina Campbell, UK; Ines Schwotzer, Germany;
Anna Atterling
, Sweden.