The goal of the AJF Artist Award is to acknowledge promise, innovation, and individuality in developing jewelers. This year’s competition was open to art jewelry makers 35 years of age or younger who were not enrolled in a professional training program; submitted work had to have been completed between 2012 and 2014. The jurors were Sooyeon Kim, jewelry artist and winner of the 2013 award; Carin Reinders, director of the Coda Museum, Apeldoorn, Netherlands; and Karen Rotenberg, founder and director of Alianza Contemporary Craft and a collector of contemporary jewelry. Criteria used in judging were originality, depth of concept, and quality of craftsmanship.
Kwon uses the theme of plant images to express meanings and symbols of memories of her daily life. Plants change their form at each stage of growth: seeds sprout, spread roots, and bloom. This course of change gives rise to unpredictable organisms and organic forms. Kwon’s work actively expresses the organic movements of plants, with their mysterious colors and constantly changing forms, creating texture with the materiality and transparency of silicone. Kwon tries to express the living in her work, so most of her pieces have rich colors and unique shapes.
Carin Reinders stated, “Seulgi uses silicone, glass, and pigments with great beauty and poetic transparency. The brooch A Soft Rain has the softness and the vulnerability of the first soft and refreshing drops. Deep in the Night gives the awareness of a night in the jungle with the great emerald green stone, glowing in the dark. Seulgi’s work has great poetic power and classical elements, but is constructed in a very contemporary way.” Sooyeon Kim commented, “Because of Seulgi’s deep understanding of silicone as a material, it seems like she has power over the material. This would not be possible without ceaseless study. Her exotic forms and bright colors have a special fascination.” Ms. Rotenberg added, “Seulgi demonstrates an innovative and beautiful use of material; her work is visually compelling.”
Kwon earned a bachelor’s (2007) and a master’s (2010) of fine arts metalwork and jewelry at Kookmin University, Seoul, Korea.
Art Jewelry Forum is a nonprofit organization spreading awareness and increasing appreciation of art jewelry worldwide since 1997. Its diverse community of artists, collectors, critics, educators, galleries, historians, makers, and writers is united by a passion for art jewelry. AJF advocates for art jewelry through an ambitious agenda of education, conversation, and financial support. It commissions critical writing that sets the standard for excellence in the field, and publishes artjewelryforum.org, an Internet resource for original content on art jewelry.