AJF asked this year’s five young 2016 Artist Award finalists to tell us a bit about their backgrounds and their thoughts on the future of the art jewelry field. Their work represents a group of outstanding pieces of contemporary jewelry. This is the first of five interviews.
For this, the 15th annual AJF Artist Award, the jurors were Philip Clarke of New Zealand, inaugural director of Objectspace; 2014 Artist Award winner Seulgi Kwon, from South Korea; and AJF board member and collector Susan Kempin, who is from the United States. The jurors met in December and selected the following five finalists for the 2016 AJF Artist Award: Lynn Batchelder, Seth Papac, Carina Shoshtary, Aric Verrastro, and Timothy Veske-McMahon. The choices were based on originality, depth of concept, and quality of craftsmanship. These artists were all under the age of 35 at the time of the application deadline.
There will be an exhibition of the five finalists’ work at Platina’s booth in the International Trade Fair hall in Munich, in the Frame area surrounding Schmuck.
Bonnie Levine: Congratulations on being one of the five finalists of the 2016 Artist Award competition—that’s quite an accomplishment! How did you become interested in jewelry, and what inspires your work?
Carina Shoshtary: Thank you!
After finishing school I had a few interviews at the Academy of Fine Arts Munich because I wanted to study painting. The professors advised me to undergo an apprenticeship before applying to study art, and it was more or less by chance that I ended up taking an apprenticeship as a goldsmith. After that I had my first interview with Otto Künzli, which was very inspiring. He showed me a glimpse of the freedom I have in creating art jewelry. This was really liberating! It didn´t take me long to fall in love with art jewelry then.
With my work I am creating a kind of parallel phantasmagorical nature, so nature is clearly an important source of inspiration. But also music, books, and movies inspire me, as well as some surreal images from my dreams.
What does being a finalist mean for you? Do you think it will influence you in any way?
Carina Shoshtary: I feel very honored and happy about it. The first years after my studies were marked by many ups and downs. Receiving this kind of recognition is a confirmation for me that I am on a good path with my work.
Where do you think the art jewelry field is going?
Carina Shoshtary: The quantity of makers is growing rapidly, but there are not enough established facilities for showing and selling art jewelry. As a result, we makers will have to find new ways to get our work out there. I am optimistic about that. With so many dedicated and creative makers on the rise, I believe that the field will become stronger and richer and that we will find constructive solutions for its current lack of opportunities.
What excites you about the art jewelry field?
Carina Shoshtary: Art jewelry offers unique possibilities: It can include aspects from every other field of art and still remain jewelry. If tomorrow I decided that I would like to paint or make performance art, art jewelry could still be right medium for me to do so. Moreover, art jewelry has this interesting maker-wearer-viewer constellation. I always felt that it is a big compliment if somebody buys a piece to wear it. Somebody may like a piece by looking at it, but in order to want to wear it, the person has to connect to the piece in a deeper more intimate way; he/she has to identify with some aspects of the piece. By wearing it, the piece becomes a part of the wearer’s appearance and both wearer and piece are transforming each other. There is this beautiful, uncontrollable aspect to it.
What frustrates you about it?
Carina Shoshtary: The lack of appreciation for art jewelry in the art world and the lack of awareness of people in general. Sometimes I catch myself thinking that it must be nice to be a painter just because there is no need to explain what a painting is. I am aware of course that somebody doesn’t necessarily know how to value the artwork just because he/she knows what a painting actually is. But the frequent necessity to explain from scratch what art jewelry is, how it developed, etc., before I can even think of talking about my work, is tiring at times. Making art jewelry noticed and appreciated by a bigger audience was and still is something we are aiming to achieve.
What do you think your direction will be five years from now?
Carina Shoshtary: I have absolutely no idea, and it’s a good thing, too. It would be alarming for me if I knew already how my work would develop in several years. Let’s hope it will be a good surprise.