Carina Shoshtary

2017 Susan Beech Mid-Career Artist Grant Finalist | In English / 日本語版

By United States

Carina Shoshtary, In the Beginning there Was Red
Carina Shoshtary, In the Beginning there Was Red, 2017, headpiece, spruce bark, almond shells, graffiti, glass, paint, photo: Laurens Grigoleit

I had the pleasure of interviewing Carina Shoshtary a year ago as one of the finalists for the AJF Artist Award. Fast forward a year and here we are again, this time with her as a finalist for the new Susan Beech Mid-Career Grant. It’s easy to see why Carina is the only maker to have achieved this distinction. Her jewelry is imaginative, innovative, and emotional, using unusual materials such as graffiti, old bobbin laces, and pieces of plastic netting, transforming them into ethereal pieces of jewelry. Carina took time out of her busy schedule to talk about her project proposal for the Mid-Career Grant and other projects she’s working on.

Bonnie Levine: First and foremost, many congratulations on being named a finalist for the 2017 Susan Beech Mid-Career Grant! It’s quite an accomplishment, given the large number of proposals that were received. And it’s even more of an accomplishment because you were also selected as a finalist for the 2016 AJF Artist Award just a year ago. How does it feel to be a finalist in two such important competitions?

Carina Shoshtary: Thank you! It’s an honor to have been selected for both competitions as a finalist. 2016 was the last year I could apply for the AJF Artist Award because now I’m too old for it. Most competitions for young/emerging artists have an age limit of 35. And I do feel I’m entering a new phase with my art and my career now. I’ve made art jewelry for 11 years (jewelry for 16 years), and it feels good not to be a newcomer anymore. When I received the email with info about the Susan Beech Mid-Career Grant, my first reaction was that it was too early for me to apply for it and maybe I didn’t have enough experience. But then my head started spinning around these fragmentary ideas I had had for a while, until they became concrete enough to start writing them down. In retrospect I feel that this call for project proposals was an excellent opportunity to dare to dream and think big and to shape a vision of what else I would like to implement in the future.

Carina Shoshtary, Multiclavula 4
Carina Shoshtary, Multiclavula 4, 2017, necklace, graffiti, glass, silver, oyster shells, plastic, 142 x 165 x 33 mm, photo: Mirei Takeuchi

Your proposal for the Mid-Career Grant was called The Hunter—a project including art jewelry, music, and video. Tell us about the project and how these three art forms interact to tell a story. What was the inspiration behind your idea?

Carina Shoshtary: For a year and a half now, I’ve been working on a body of work I call The Hunter. In my imagination, I picture what kind of jewelry a fictitious tribe of hunter-gatherers would wear to mediate strength or fertility, or what their ceremonial jewelry would look like. The idea came up because I normally collect my materials in my immediate surroundings. The idea of “the hunter” has a symbolic meaning for me. I believe we are all hunting for something, consciously or subconsciously, and it is the main subject of our deepest longing, which often directs our actions.

When I was looking for words to describe the emotional and psychological part of The Hunter, I spontaneously wrote and recorded the sketch of a song instead. It came much easier to me. I find music, more than any other art form, has this amazing power to transport emotions directly and effortlessly. I know, though, where my boundaries are. Before I would use the song as part of an exhibition alongside my jewelry or publish it in any other way, I would like to collaborate with professional musicians to upgrade the sketch into a well-mixed song with substance and structure. For my Susan Beech Grant project proposal I took it one step further. I wondered how the jewelry and the song could best interact together in an exhibition space, and immediately thought of an artistic music video which would take on the hunter theme. I picture film stills or slow-motion scenes, e.g., showing a member of the tribe performing one of their rituals. As I have no knowledge about video making or cutting, I would like to collaborate with someone for this part of the project, too. The idea is to show the jewelry pieces and the video together in an exhibition in order to add new perspectives and to enhance the expression by involving more senses.

Carina Shoshtary, Symbiosis 3
Carina Shoshtary, Symbiosis 3, 2016, necklace, driftwood, graffiti, glass, silver, almond shells, paint, 124 x 92 x 21 mm, photo: Mirei Takeuchi

How do you feel this project would impact and expand the field of contemporary art jewelry? How would it grow or stretch you as a maker?

Carina Shoshtary: I think interdisciplinary projects contain much potential to advance the field of art jewelry because they make it accessible to a wider audience and break down the limitations of the field—assuming the new medium is performed with an equal amount of skill and creative energy. For me personally, it would be an amazing opportunity to work in different media for this project. I could rejoin my passion for art jewelry and music and find out how both could benefit each other. I think it would be like closing a circle.

Your work is known for its characteristic materials—graffiti paint and other found materials such as driftwood, seeds, shells, etc. Are these also the basis of the jewelry in The Hunter series? How is this proposed body of work similar to/different from your past work?

Carina Shoshtary: I collect what I’m attracted to and then transform it in an intuitive process with predominantly simple means. This is how I’ve been working ever since my first attempts in contemporary art jewelry, and it’s the basis for all my series so far. In a sense, I feel I connect to an ancient way of (jewelry) making. I like that. The Hunter is now taking up on this notion with hidden and apparent narratives.

Carina Shoshtary, Multiclavula 2
Carina Shoshtary, Multiclavula 2, 2017, earrings, graffiti, plastic, gold, 69 x 25 x 16 mm, photo: Mirei Takeuchi

I know color is very important in your work, and for this project, you focused on the color red. What’s the connection between red and the concept behind The Hunter?

Carina Shoshtary: Red is the primordial color. It’s the first color humans invented a name for, it’s the first color babies can see. It symbolizes life itself because our blood is red. Red also represents our most intense and primal emotions like love and lust, hate and aggression, etc. It allures, but simultaneously sends out a warning. With the introduction of the color red in The Hunter, associations to the body are always present: a mouth, a tongue, an ear, a wound, inner organs, and pieces of flesh or muscle. On some pieces, shapes with bright red openings are growing and invite you to have a look inside the “organism,” a kind of hybrid creature. They offer themselves, appear to reveal a secret, but also look as if they could close shut at any second and snare the viewer like a Venus flytrap. And so these pieces are not only the jewelry of the fictitious hunters, but they can be interpreted as little hunters themselves.

I read that you once considered becoming a musician but chose to be a jewelry maker instead. Can you tell us more about this and the role music plays in your life and art?

Carina Shoshtary: My family has a musical background and many of my most happy childhood memories are those of making music together. Later I sang in several band projects and tried out different styles. I was a good studio musician, but I didn’t perform well on stage because I was too shy. Another problem was that I never found the right group of people who were interested in making the same kind of music I wanted to make. Finally I gave up on a career as a musician. It wasn’t that hard to give up, though, since I was always going back and forth between music and painting/drawing/creating other things. Since then, listening to and writing music has become something I do for pleasure or to seek inspiration in. I mostly use music very deliberately. Sometimes there’s a particular song I have to listen to over and over again when I’m working on a piece, because I want to capture the spirit of it. Sometimes I’m in a blue mood and need to listen to my favorite, most melancholic songs to let myself go deeper into this feeling. When I turn off the music, the world then seems refreshingly bright and quiet, because the music absorbed the negative vibes.

Carina Shoshtary, Carnivore 2
Carina Shoshtary, Carnivore 2, 2015, brooch, driftwood, graffiti, glass, silver, oyster shell, stainless steel, paint, 107 x 72 x 37 mm, photo: Mirei Takeuchi

Recently you were part of a group show during Munich Jewelry Week called A Barbarian, a Title, and a Miracle. Tell us about the show and the concept behind it. What does the title mean?

Carina Shoshtary: We were four artists: Attai Chen, Mielle Harvey, Barbara Schrobenhauser, and me. The exhibition showcased art jewelry in one room and artworks of other media in the second room. The concept was to build the exhibition like a collage created from the collision of diverging and intersecting nuggets of meaning. For our strange title, we played a Scrabble game with the letters of our first names until we found a sequence of words that we liked. In the process, many odd titles came up, but A Barbarian, a Title, and a Miracle was the best. It opens up your imagination to a wild and funny story. For the presentation of the work, we built four long tables assembled from boards of different color, material, and thickness. For several months we collected pieces of old furniture from different eras and other discarded boards to have enough interesting material at hand. This idea established itself for ecological reasons, too. We wanted to produce as little new waste as possible.

You’re very busy these days with two exhibitions this spring: Fragments at Gallery Four in Gothenburg, Sweden, and Touchy Feely at the Baltimore Jewelry Center in Baltimore, Maryland. What work are you presenting at these shows?

Carina Shoshtary: Fragments just ended, and Touchy Feely is currently running. In both I showed a few pieces from the Karma Chroma series. Both exhibitions have concepts which are designed to involve visitors by inviting them to action: For Fragments, Karin Roy Andersson, Åsa Christensson, Hanna Liljenberg, Sanna Svedestedt Carboo, Attai Chen, and I built a huge pin board and attached our pieces with pins on white sheets of paper. Attai and I are currently artists in residence at Konstepidemin in Gothenburg and we wanted to use the exhibition as a playground for a lively exchange with our four Swedish colleagues. During the period the exhibition ran, we added snippets of ideas, material samples, or other things that documented this. But the visitors also had the opportunity to leave their mark on the wall. In this way, we hoped for an exchange that ran in both directions to take place.

Touchy Feely is a group exhibition where people can investigate the tactile aspect of jewelry. The pieces are not behind glass, but lie openly for the visitor to touch. I think this is a nice idea because experiencing jewelry with only your eyes doesn’t make that much sense, does it?

Carina Shoshtary, Symbiosis 4
Carina Shoshtary, Symbiosis 4, 2016, necklace, driftwood, graffiti, glass, silver, almond shells, paint, 257 x 47 x 25 mm, photo: Laurens Grigoleit

How do you maintain such a busy exhibition, teaching/lecturing, and production schedule while maintaining the integrity of your work? How do you recharge your batteries, and what do you do for fun?

Carina Shoshtary: Finding balance is hard. I try to take on only as many projects as I can handle and maintain a quite constant working/resting schedule. In the past I let myself become swept away by this state of trance of nonstop creating. That sounds very romantic in theory, but the reality is often another matter. I learned that it usually backfires when I push myself too hard.

In day-to-day life it is important for me to reenergize as much as possible. I take walks with my dog in the forest. Being surrounded by green is so vitalizing. We also have a garden and I like to get my hands dirty there. Smell the soil. And I exercise regularly, so the customary back problems of jewelry makers have left me, touch wood!

What do I do purely for fun? I think I enjoy eating the most.

What other projects are you currently working on, and what have you seen or read recently that you found inspiring?

Carina Shoshtary: In July 2017 I will have a solo exhibition at Sienna Patti in Lenox, Massachusetts, titled In the Beginning there Was Red. It will show the The Hunter jewelry, and I am creating a couple of additional pieces for this show. Sienna and I are also working on an accompanying booklet now, which is kind of a family project. My mother-in-law, Eva Tolkovsky, wrote a short poetic text for it, and Katia, my sister-in-law, was wearing the jewelry for my second photo project with photographer Laurens Grigoleit.

Recently we visited the Akvarellmuseet (the Watercolor Museum) in Skärhamn, Sweden, which is a gem at all levels with its magical landscape, great architecture, and powerful art. The exhibition of Swedish artist Knutte Wester, titled Horungen (Bastard Child), showed 1,000 black and white watercolor drawings with scenes from his grandmother’s childhood. A small cinema in a separate room showed a movie, which played the same artworks as coherent scenes. The voice of an old woman narrated the story in first person. I thought it was a brilliant project and a strong connection of the two media.

Thank you.

Carina Shoshtary: Thank you!









私は昨年、AJF アーティスト・アワードのファイナリストの1人に選考されたカリナ・ショシュタリーにインタビューをさせてもらう機会に恵まれた。それから1年を経た今、今度はスーザン・ビーチ・ミッドキャリア助成金給付コンペのファイナリストとして、再び彼女に話を聞くこととなった。カリナがこのような快挙を成し遂げた唯一の作家たりえた理由は明らかである。彼女は、グラフィティや昔のレースのリボン、プラスチックのメッシュといった独特の素材を、創造力と革新性、情緒にあふれる洗練されたジュエリーへと昇華させられる作家だ。カリナは忙しいスケジュールの合間を縫って、助成金給付コンペに応募したプロジェクトと、進行中のそのほかのプロジェクトについて話を聞かせてくれた。

ボニー・レビーン:はじめに、2017年スーザン・ビーチ・ミッドキャリア助成金給付コンペについて、本当におめでとうございます! 応募者の数からしても、ファイナリストに選出されたことは快挙です。あなたの場合、1年前に2016年 AJF アーティスト・アワードでもファイナリストに選出されていますから、功績の大きさが一段と増すというものです。このように大きなコンペで二度もファイナリストに残ったことについてどんな感想をお持ちですか?

カリナ・ショシュタリー:ありがとうございます! このふたつのコンペのファイナリストに選出されたことは光栄です。年齢的に、2016年は AJF アーティスト・アワードに応募できる最後のチャンスでした。若手や新人を対象にしたアート系のコンペは、ほとんど35才までという年齢制限を設けていますからね。それに、私自身も創作活動とキャリアの両面で新しい段階に移りつつあるのを実感しています。今まで11年間アートジュエリーを制作してきたので(ジュエリー全般なら16年間)、新人の域を出られたことをうれしく思います。助成金のコンペについて公募の告知がメールで届いたときは、自分にはまだ早すぎるだろうし、経験も足りないような気がしました。でも、後から、それまでは断片でしかなかった考えがいくつも頭のなかでぐるぐる回りだし、ついには書き起こすに至るほどまとまった形になりました。いま思えば、この企画の公募は、思い切って大きな夢や考えを抱き、先々の新たなビジョンを思い描くまたとないチャンスでした。




Carina Shoshtary, Over the Rainbow
Carina Shoshtary, Over the Rainbow, 2016, necklace, graffiti, silver, 33 x 24 x 21 mm, photo: Laurens Grigoleit

このプロジェクトは、どのようなかたちでコンテンポラリーアートジュエリーの世界に影響を与え、またその領域を拡大できると思いますか? また作り手であるあなたをどう成長させてくれると思いますか?


あなたの作品は、グラフィティをはじめ、流木、種、貝殻など、どこかで見つけてきた独自の素材で知られています。「ザ・ハンター」シリーズのジュエリーでも、これらの素材が基となっていますか? 今回の企画案の、過去作との類似点は相違点にはどんなものがありますか?




あなたは昔、ミュージシャンを志しながらも結局はジュエリー作家の道を選んだと読んだことがあります。このことについて詳しく聞かせてもらえますか? また、音楽は人生と創作においてどんな役割を果たしますか?


Exhibition view, Fragments, Karin Roy Andersson, Attai Chen, Åsa Christensson, Hanna Liljenberg, Carina Shoshtary, Sanna Svedest
Exhibition view, Fragments, Karin Roy Andersson, Attai Chen, Åsa Christensson, Hanna Liljenberg, Carina Shoshtary, Sanna Svedestedt Carboo, 2017, Gallery Four, Gothenburg, Sweden, photo: Carina Shoshtary






展覧会と教職、制作という多忙なスケジュールと、作品の質の維持をどのように両立させていらっしゃるのですか? エネルギーチャージの方法や、娯楽は?




Exhibition view, A Barbarian, a Title, and a Miracle, Attai Chen, Mielle Harvey, Barbara Schrobenhauser, Carina Shoshtary
Exhibition view, A Barbarian, a Title, and a Miracle, Attai Chen, Mielle Harvey, Barbara Schrobenhauser, Carina Shoshtary, 2017, Munich Jewelry Week, photo: Carina Shoshtary







Translated from English by Makiko Akiyama.


  • Bonnie Levine

    Bonnie Levine is co-owner of Hedone Gallery. She has loved and bought contemporary studio jewelry for many years, determined to become a gallerist when she left the corporate world. That has now happened! 

    View all posts United States
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