2018 Artist Award Finalist

Jelizaveta Suska, Frozen in Amber 5, 2017, brooch,
70 x 50 x 30 mm

AJF has announced this year’s five 2018 Artist Award finalists: Karin Roy Andersson, Bifei Cao, Corrina Goutos, Aurélie Guillaume, and Jelizaveta Suska. Their work represents a group of outstanding pieces of contemporary jewelry. 

For this, the 16th annual AJF Artist Award, the jurors were Swedish collector Inger Wästberg, Australian curator Su san Cohn, and American artist Lynn Batchelder, the winner of the 2016 Artist Award. The jurors met in December and selected the finalists for the 2018 AJF Artist Award from more than 100 applicants. Their choices were based on originality, depth of concept, and quality of craftsmanship. These artists were all 35 years of age or younger at the time of the application deadline. The winner will be announced during Munich Jewellery Week, in March. During the fair, the work of all five finalists will be on exhibit at Platina’s booth in the International Trade Fair hall in Munich, in the Frame area surrounding Schmuck. 

AJF asked the finalists to tell us a bit about their backgrounds, the work they submitted for the competition, and their thoughts on the future of the art jewelry field. Here’s our interview with Jelizaveta Suska. It’s the last of the five interviews with all the artists. 

 Jelizaveta Suska, Frozen in Amber 3, 2017, brooch,Jelizaveta Suska, Frozen in Amber 3, back, 2017, brooch

Bonnie Levine: Congratulations on being one of the five finalists of the 2018 Artist Award competition—that’s quite an accomplishment! Please introduce yourself to our readers. How did you become interested in jewelry, and what inspires your work?  

Jelizaveta Suska: Thank you!  

I was born in Latvia in 1989. At the age of 24, I moved to Sweden. In 2015 I graduated from the Academy of Design and Crafts (HDK) at the University of Gothenburg. I’ve also studied in Latvia, Germany, and Japan. I’m currently a resident at the IASPIS program in Stockholm.  

I’ve been always interested in art and have been trying things for as long as I can remember. It’s interesting because art brings variety and beauty, and fosters independent thinking, new perspectives, etc.—and art jewelry can be all of it. When I applied to the Art Academy of Latvia, I chose the discipline that I knew the least about—metal design. The bachelor’s program had a classical jewelry approach, focused on traditional materials. During my second year, I did an exchange semester and was tutored by jeweler Georg Dobler. Those five months made me fall in love with art jewelry. 

What does being a finalist mean for you? Do you think it will influence you going forward? 

Jelizaveta Suska: I’m very happy and honored. Getting such feedback gives me assurance that my work is interesting for other people as well. It means that the viewer is receiving the message that I’m giving by means of my work, which is wonderful and very important, as it’s one of the main reasons I started to make art. I hope that being a finalist will help me to reach even more people. 

Jelizaveta Suska, Frozen in Amber 1, 2017, necklace

Tell us about the work you submitted for the competition.  

Jelizaveta Suska: The Frozen in Amber pieces are a lot about the feeling of a moment in time. I was looking for materialization of this abstract matter. After a period of research, I came up with my own material, which has two main compounds: polymer, which is light and transparent, just like “a moment,” and crushed amber, which creates the illusion of a solid stone. At the beginning of crafting each piece, the material is hot and dynamic, but after a while it becomes still, like a metaphor of a moment becoming a memory.  

I used Baltic amber because I associate it with my homeland, Latvia, and with the past. These fossils from around 44 million years ago were widely used in the Soviet Union. I believe that amber could even be considered as a stereotype of this period. I aim to destroy this perception by crushing the stones and their accepted value to use them in another context and step away from what I’ve seen so many times before. 

What excites you about the art jewelry field?  

Jelizaveta Suska: The fact that you can wear art on you, or have it with you. That makes it, in a way, more accessible. Besides, the discipline is relatively new, and I would like to believe that it has a lot of potential. 

 Jelizaveta Suska, Frozen in Amber 2, 2017, brooch

Any frustrations that you see or have experienced?  

Jelizaveta Suska: I think the most frustrating is how little awareness of art jewelry there is. Even when I talk with professionals who work with art, they often are surprised to hear about this field. I’ve also noticed some sort of misconception of what art jewelry is. When I name my profession, I feel a little skepticism, but then I see their opinion changing when I show examples and explain what art jewelry is and how broad it is in its expression. Maybe it’s the fault of education, but it consequently affects the main purpose of our work—art jewelry that has been made is not actually being worn as much as it could be.  

Where do you think the art jewelry field is going? Are there new and exciting trends that you see? 

Jelizaveta Suska: I would assume that art jewelry is “kicking off” from crafts even further; I would expect to see more interdisciplinary, multimedia tendencies. 

 Jelizaveta Suska, Frozen in Amber 6, 2017, brooch,Jelizaveta Suska, Frozen in Amber 6, back, 2017, brooch

If you could write a master plan for your practice, where would you like to be five years from now?  

Jelizaveta Suska: I would like to be in my studio and working, doing occasional teaching.  

Congratulations again! Thank you very much. 

Jelizaveta Suska, Frozen in Amber 3, back, 2017, brooch

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!