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Diploma 2017 in the ADBK Munich (4/5): Jing Yang

I really have a lot of respect for people, who leave their country to study far away from home. It must be very hard in the beginning. When Jing Yang came from China to Germany to study in the Munich Jewellery Class, she must have suffered from a real cultural shock. Without either German nor much English to communicate, I remember her struggling to find her way with her jewellery work and with life in Germany in general. But Jing is made of much sturdier stuff than her petite figure would suggest. During this time, I was teaching German classes to classmates and when Jing joined us, she could already speak German pretty well, which was astonishing seeing that she’d never visited any German classes before. She had been teaching herself.
Jing also developed her language as a contemporary jewellery artist quite fast. After some teething problems, (which we’d all been confronted with) she created a stunning series of necklaces titled Ich bin keine Vase (“I am not a vase”), which are composed of several loose stringed brass parts. If you staple the geometrical elements on top of each other, you will get a classical shape of a vase. This work knocked my socks off when I first saw it in Jing´s solo show during the Munich Jewellery Week 2015.

Jing explained to me during our interview in her diploma show: “Art Jewellery or hollowware belongs to the applied arts, the pieces normally ought to have a function. I used the shape of a vase, but took away its original functioning. The vase became something new. It became jewellery. The other meaning comes from China: If you say in China that a woman or a man is like a vase, it means that he or she is pretty from the outside, but empty from the inside, just like a hollow decorative item. So, by wearing one of these necklaces, the wearer declares that he/she has something to say.”

In her diploma show, Jing had her own room to exhibit necklaces on the walls and a huge “version” of her divided vase shapes made of clay, which were presented in the center of the room.

Carina: How do you make these jewellery pieces? Do you create the entire vase shape at first and then cut it apart?

Jing: No, they are made differently. First, I draw shapes of vases I find beautiful. Many people think I am using traditional Chinese vase shapes, but it is really my own shapes that I like. Then I cut the drawing apart into segments and calculate the individual parts mathematically to build them on paper first. Often, I then have to adapt the shape if I cannot solve the calculations. The segments of the vase are then built separately in brass.

Carina: So actually, the vase only exists in your mind and on the paper, but never in the proper material…

Jing: Yes. This is important for me, there never was an actual vase. There is the image of a vase, when you stack the segments on top of each other. But when you wear it, the vase shape falls apart into new ever-changing forms. You cannot wear the vase around your neck as a jewellery piece.

Carina: So, tell me a bit about the sculpture you made from clay?

Jing: There is certainly a strong connection to the jewellery series, because you could again build a vase from these parts. If you stapled all the pieces on top of each other, you would get a 1.90 m high sculpture, so approximately man high. For me, there is also a connection to the body, because the process of making these clay pieces was physically hard work. I needed a lot of help. The clay pieces are very heavy, and I cannot lift them by myself. I think all the Chinese students from the Academy were helping me with this project and the caretaker of the Academy knows me much better now than he would like to I think.

Carina: Did you ever build the vase from these parts?

Jing: Yes, I did. But I see the whole piece more like an invitation to build different shapes from it. Like with the jewellery, there is no definite shape for me.

Carina: And how did you make the segments for this piece?

Jing: For the jewellery, I calculated the flat projections, which were then folded into a three-dimensional geometrical shape. For the clay segments, I had to make the calculations already for 3- D pieces. It was quite complicated.

Carina: Do you enjoy mathematics?

Jing: Yes, a lot. I can really focus when I am calculating mathematical formulas. Everybody in the studio already knows that it is better not to disturb me, when I am doing mathematics.

Carina: So, congratulations on finishing your studies! What are your plans for the future now?
Jing: I want to continue working in Munich at least for a few more years now, but I think earlier or later, I want to go back to China.

Carina: I know that you were doing performance and video art before your studies in Munich. Now you made your first sculpture. Will you continue working in different media?

Jing: Yes, I have been focusing on making art jewellery now for several years, but in the future, I want to be open to work in other media too. I want to work in the media which best fits the ideas I’d like to implement.

Carina: Thank you, Jing.

Jing Yang (born 1987 in Hunan, China) received her BA of Fine Arts from the Xiamen University, China, in 2010. She then studied at the Academy of Fine Arts Munich in the jewellery class from 2010-2017 under Prof. Otto Künzli and Prof. Karen Pontoppidan.

1 Jing Yang: Invitation card for diploma show Keine Vase, Photo: Jing Yang
2 Jing Yang: Untitled, Necklace; Brass, string; Photo: Mirei Takeuchi
3 Jing Yang: Untitled, Necklace; Brass, string; Photo: Mirei Takeuchi
4 Jing Yang: Diploma show Keine Vase, Munich, 2017; Photo: Carina Shoshtary
5 Jing Yang: Untitled, Necklace; Brass, string; Photo: Mirei Takeuchi
6/7/8 Jing Yang: Diploma show Keine Vase, Munich, 2017; Photo: Carina Shoshtary
9 Jing Yang: Untitled, Necklace; Brass, string; Photo: Mirei Takeuchi

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It was that week of the year again…
The only week in the year when I iron my clothes and apply lipstick every morning. The week when I hardly get any sleep at night, experience consistent dehydration in the afternoons and become hoarse to speechless over the course of the day. The week when even I (who rarely ever drinks a drop of alcohol) am longing for a drink every evening. The week when Munich is invaded by the community of the contemporary jewellery world, without the people of Munich even noticing it.
The week before last was Munich Jewellery Week 2017. What a harmless title for this jam-packed abundance of everything to do with contemporary jewellery. I think Munich Jewellery War would be as appropriate, because you easily get the feeling that you need to fight your way through the week in order to simply persevere, no matter if you came to see or show or both. Or Munich Jewellery Walk, as there is definitely a lot of walking involved during these days. From one exhibition, artist talk, party event to the next all day, several days... Or Munich Jewellery Wow, because it is altogether an overwhelming experience, stimulating and exhausting simultaneously.

Last year I had only started writing the KARMA CHROMA- blog and gone into the MJW with the expectation of writing a rich synopsis of all I saw and heard, but the task was just too big for me. In the end, I wrote two articles about two artists whose shows I had visited during the week. Given that around 80 jewellery exhibitions had been on show and I had seen probably half of them, that is a bit meager of course, but I think I prefer it that way. This year, I had an exhibition with three colleagues myself and did not manage to see too much unfortunately. So, this year I will merely write about our project during the MJW 2017.

Our exhibition with the curious title “A BARBARIAN, A TITLE, & A MIRACLE” showed a large number of the latest jewellery pieces and artworks of other media of Attai Chen, Mielle Harvey, Barbara Schrobenhauser and me in the two rooms of the “Verein für Originalradierung München” (an association, which usually is specialized in showing etching art). Barbara, Attai and I studied together almost the whole time in the Munich jewellery class at the ADBK and have been very good friends and colleagues ever since with a lively exchange. Attai Chen and I have been a couple for the last nine years, during which our work has been profoundly influenced and inspired by each other. Mielle is from an earlier generation of Künzli graduates, though I have felt connected with her work for a long time as she was one of my idols when I began to explore art jewellery. She is also a lovely person, so it was both an honour and a pleasure to make this exhibition project with her. The four of us felt that our work was strongly connected in some ways, but was also different enough to create an interesting diverse exhibition together. It wasn’t a curated exhibition though, so we needed to elaborate a concept for our show.

An extract of our exhibition text reads:

“The exhibition, ‘A BARBARIAN, A TITLE & A MIRACLE’ is designed like a collage, created from the collision of diverging and intersecting nuggets of meaning. A group show is a kind of assemblage of different artistic positions, joined temporarily to create a new whole. To this end, we take on the exhibition like a game of scrabble, juxtaposing our individual bodies of work to expose new meanings.”

The idea of making a collage, which created new perspectives and meanings for our work, was the core of the concept when we developed the title, the invitation card and the presentation of the work. For our strange title, we wrote down our four first names on paper, cut the letters apart and played a scrabble game with them until we found a sequence of words, we liked. In the process, many even odder titles came up, but we liked “A BARBARIAN, A TITLE, & A MIRACLE” the best. It could be the title of a poetic story or the beginning of a joke...

For the presentation of the work, we built four long tables assembled from many boards of different colour, material and thickness. We collected pieces of old furniture from different eras and other disregarded boards for several months to have enough interesting material at hand. We all liked this idea also for ecological reasons. It was agreed that in the past we’d experienced that too much waste is created for exhibitions which are only on display for a few days, so we wanted to try to produce as little new waste as possible for this project.
Building the tables went astonishingly fast, but laying out the jewellery pieces took more time than anticipated. For two full days, we were trying different variations. We felt that finding the right way to place the pieces on the patchwork tables was the key to making the show work. The “new nuggets of meaning” became our motto and a running joke during this phase. It was important for us to not only lay pieces next to each other by chance, but to choose them very carefully in order to find interesting partners and relevant groups. In the end, I think we succeeded very well. One visitor even liked one particular “new nugget of meaning” so much, she said, that the two pieces belonged to each other and purchased them together.

Attai Chen (born 1979 in Jerusalem, Israel) showed his new paper jewellery series Matter of Perspective, which addresses the theme of multiple perspectives and how we perceive our surroundings. The explosive disorder of his previous paper series is now bundled and tamed in oval shapes. The way he cuts the paper has also changed quite a bit. Attai is building countless little flat projections of cardboard, which he merges into complex abstract views. Even though Attai was mainly inspired by the Pre-Renaissance perception of space and perspective, for me they are like peepholes to futuristic apocalyptic cityscapes. The backs of the pieces are made with an intricate technique of layering and sanding graphite dust to smooth and slightly shiny surfaces.

Barbara Schrobenhauser (born 1979 in Traunstein, Germany) also exhibited totally new works: There were three freshly finished brooches, where Barbara explored the possibilities of creating a three-dimensional shape only by knotting a string. Like often with Barbara’s pieces, the viewer can only fully understand her works by touching them and so this exhibition was a great opportunity to do so. Barbara showed also several pendants and necklaces made of string and wooden handles. The strings were woven together elaborately to close the handles’ open shape and were hung into each other like the links of a chain. What I enjoyed about these pieces was the playful moment when people tried them on. Even though Barbara had actually planned them to be worn in a particular way, the visitors found different ways to wear them.

Mielle Harvey (born in 1971 in New York, USA), presented pendants, necklaces and brooches from two series: Silver Scenes and Moments of Sky. The delicate pieces, which she created in versatile techniques like painting, drawing and patinating silver, appear like windows that capture a glimpse of a fleeting moment. A passing butterfly or bird, a fluffy cloud or a view of a beautiful landscape, they all represent precious moments, which we too often overlook. I especially fell in love with one piece titled Cameo III, which was made by the lost wax casting technique. It shows a detail of a birch tree forest in an oval frame. At least this is my interpretation of this pendant, because it is almost abstract.

And I (Carina Shoshtary, born 1979 in Augsburg, Germany), showed most of my new pieces from the last 1 ½ years, which included necklaces, brooches and earrings. My idea was to create ceremonial jewellery for a fictitious tribe of hunter gatherers. The most characteristic material is still the graffiti paint, but now involves other found materials into my work, e.g. driftwood, seeds and shells etc. My colour emphasis shifted towards the colour red, which is truly fascinating for me at the moment. Associations to the body are always present. Some pieces contain shapes with bright red openings which invite the viewer to have a look inside the “organism”. One lady said that the pieces appear very seductive for her, but that there is also something unsettling about them. I liked that; it’s exactly the kind of ambivalence that I am looking for.

In our second smaller room, the four of us each exhibited other artworks.
Attai presented one of his new paper wall sculptures, which are a big replica of the brooches of his Compounding Fractions -series. A lot of people who knew his jewellery were amazed at how well he transported the details and the overall impression of the jewellery into a much bigger scale.
Barbara had four of her paper vessels in the second room. The pieces, which are created with incredibly complicated and time-intense techniques, were quite astonishing for the visitors, as many thought at first that they were made of stone and marble. Also, here people needed to touch and feel the paper to comprehend the objects.

Mielle, who is never working on a theme only in the medium of jewellery, but is always simultaneously drawing and painting, showed a couple of drawings on a big wall. The themes of her jewellery pieces were resumed here and gave people a wider insight into her creative work.
I showed four large-scale photographs of my beautiful sister in law wearing my jewellery pieces. The photographs are part of my second collaboration with Munich based photographer, Laurens Grigoleit, who in my eyes is a master of light. Some people even asked me if they were painted images. I will surely write more about this collaboration on the blog soon.

Altogether we were really happy with our exhibition. We want to thank everybody who came during this week, we really met many wonderful people! We also want to thank the "Radierverein" to rent us their beautiful rooms for this week!

Our special thanks goes to Katrin Eitner and the “Förderverein zum Aufbau einer Juliane Noack Künstlerförderung” for supporting this exhibition with a grant of 700 €. Our project was the second they funded, but there are more to come. So please follow up the news on their website!

And finally, we want to thank Tereza Novotna, who a few months ago started an internship with Attai and since then has become an irreplaceable force in many ways for all of us (e.g. when none of us had the energy anymore, she jumped in and made us this incredibly clever and handsome exhibition plan with the info about all the pieces): You are amazing, Tereza!!! Ty jsi nejlepší! Milujeme tě a rozhodně bychom tě adoptovali, kdyby nám to tvoje rodiče dovolili. Objímáme tě.

1Tereza Novotna: Exhibition plan for A BARBARIAN, A TITLE, & A MIRACLE
2/3 Building of the exhibition A BARBARIAN, A TITLE, & A MIRACLE, Photos: Carina Shoshtary/ Attai Chen
4-10 A BARBARIAN, A TITLE, & A MIRACLE, Munich, 2017; Photos: Carina Shoshtary
11 Attai Chen: Untitled; Necklace, 2017; Paper, paint, silver, wood, graphite; Photo: Mirei Takeuchi
12 Barbara Schrobenhauser:  Confused and Concentrated; Brooch. 2017; Cotton, string, stainless steel; Photo: Mirei Takeuchi
13 Barbara Schrobenhauser:  Vom Tragen und Halten II; Neckpiece2017; Wooden handels, woven string; Photo: Mirei Takeuchi
14 Mielle Harvey: Moments of Sky Necklace; Necklace, 2016; Sterling silver, oil paint, silk cord; Photo: Mielle Harvey
15 Mielle Harvey: Cameo I, Pendant, 2017; Lost wax cast sterling silver, patina, oil paint, silk cord; Photo: Mielle Harvey
16 Carina Shoshtary: Over the Rainbow; Necklace, 2016; Graffiti, silver; Photo: Mirei Takeuchi
17 Carina Shoshtary: Carnivore 3; Necklace, 2017; Graffiti, glass, silver; Photo: Mirei Takeuchi
18-24 A BARBARIAN, A TITLE, & A MIRACLE, Munich, 2017; Photos: Carina Shoshtary, Tereza Novotna

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Diploma 2017 in the ADBK Munich (3/5): Kvetoslava Flora Sekanova

For her diploma show titled … I was here, Kvetoslava Flora Sekanova darkened a small room, which you entered though a black curtain. The only sources of light in the room were a black light hanging in the middle of the room and a strip of a LED light attached under her pieces, which were hung on one wall. On the opposite wall, there were illuminating handwritten letters, which said “I was here”. When I came into the room, my eyes needed a bit of time to adjust to the darkness before I could start to explore Flora´s work. Parts of her jewellery works, which were all made of transparent glass, slowly emerged like ghost-like appearances on a foggy field. The longer I stayed in the room, the more details were relinquished, but still the upper parts of the pieces stayed hidden, merging into the wall. The text, which Flora had written about the installation of her diploma show, read:

“This is an intimate installation which I intended as a reaction to the moment of leaving. Somewhere inside me is stored all that I have lived, everything that has happened. I can’t touch this but it’s there. The more I try to define it, the more I lose it. These are the ephemeral moments, imprinted into the fragility of this point in life full of doubts and uncertainty.
With this installation, I want to take you on a walk, when in one moment you are losing the past, losing sureness and at this same moment, the present appears. It is not possible to catch that moment between, but we experience it all the time if we become aware of it.
What fascinates me about the actual act of writing on the wall ‘I was here’ is its connection to the past which it refers to while the act of writing is happening now and creating a bridge with the future hope. It is this moment of honesty with oneself, when I want to reflect, when I want to acknowledge, when I want to connect with the person who ‘was here’.”

Kvetoslava Flora Sekanova (born in 1976 in Banska Bystrica, Slovakia) obtained an Advanced Diploma in Art and Craft at the Hungry Creek Art & Craft School in Auckland, New Zealand, in 2010. In 2011, she gathered a year of work experience with artist Warwick Freeman, also in Auckland, New Zealand. Flora then enrolled in the Munich jewellery class in 2012 and studied there under Professor Otto Künzli and Professor Karen Pontoppidan.

I recorded our conversation when Flora was explaining to me about her jewellery pieces:

Carina: How do you make these pieces? I know a bit about glassworks because I learned glass bead making during my apprenticeship as a goldsmith in Neugablonz, but I don’t know how to make these bigger and free shapes?

Flora: I am using quite thick glass rods, either solid or hollow, for this series. These are heated in the fire and then stretched into a thin line, which then can be shaped.

Carina: Which kind of torch are you using for this? One with many tips? This was what we used for the glass beads.

Flora: Yes, the one I use has several tips too. I cannot make the beads though, that’s too difficult with this particular glass as it needs a much higher temperature to melt.

Carina: I always felt like the freer the shape, the more difficult it gets to control the glass.

Flora: Yes, you have to train a lot, but I have been working with glass now for around three years, so I have some experience with it. It also depends on which kind of glass you use. I learned to work with this particular glass, but if I used another kind of glass, it would be only slightly different and I would need some time to get a feeling for it.

Carina: I realized that even with different colours of glass, some colours were easy to work with and others were really hard. But you are only using the transparent glass, right? For me, your pieces look as if they were made of ice, also the sound when the glass chain you’re wearing now is moving is very icy.

Flora: Yes, they have an icy look. I like the totally transparent colourless glass, everything else would be too confusing, I feel.

Carina: What fascinates you about working with glass?

Flora: For me, it is like having a dance. My hands have to make the right movements in the right time, otherwise it doesn’t work at all. Of course, some days are better than others.
When I finished working with my previous project, for which I used newspapers, I was looking for something totally new. By chance, I visited a glass workshop and was fascinated by the process. I like this aspect of glass, that you can only shape it when it changes its state of aggregation from solid to honey like. And I also like that in order to work with glass, you need a lot of patience and focus. You cannot rush it. For me, this series is really about the material, to investigate what its possibilities are. I am also really fascinated with old traditional techniques and for working with the glass, I had to learn a lot about the craftsmanship of traditional glass working.

Carina: Probably a question you hear all the time: Are your glass jewellery pieces very fragile? You are now wearing a very fine necklace. Do you have to be very careful when you wear it?

Flora: It really depends on the shape of the necklace, on how big the parts are and how three- dimensional the whole form is. Naturally the thicker the glass, the more stable it becomes, but then e.g. this thin necklace with the small links I am wearing now is adapting to the shape of the body and moves with it, which makes it easy to wear and less prone to break. So, if somebody would hug me strongly now, nothing would happen to the necklace, but if I dropped it on the floor, it would most likely break.

Carina: That’s interesting, because my experience with bead making was that the bigger I made the glass beads, the easier they broke when they were cooling down or when I took them from the iron bar.

Flora: Bead making is a bit of different story. In general, if you temper the glass, you can release the inner tension in the thicker glass shapes and avoid the spontaneous cracking.

Carina: Does “tempering” mean that you put the glass in an oven to let them cool down slowly?

Flora: Exactly, if you don’t do this, the pieces would be super fragile. For me, the glass even feels different in my hands when I temper it. You have to temper the big pieces for sure, but I even feel a difference with the fine pieces. I put all pieces in an oven at a certain temperature for several hours and then let them cool down over night.

Carina: What are your plans now after the diploma?

Flora: My plans are to relax for now, but only until the Munich Jewellery Week. I will then have a show titled BIKKURIBAKO in the Kunstarkaden with four other students from the Munich jewellery class, Takayoshi Terajima, Asako Takahashi, Seung Hey Ryu and Nelly Stein. But I will also have some of my glass works in the Schmuck exhibition on the fair this year for the first time!

Carina: Congratulations, that’s so great!

Flora: Yes, this was perfect timing I believe!

Carina: Definitely. So, good luck with your projects and hopefully some well-deserved relaxation time too.

1 Kvetoslava Flora Sekanova: Invitation card for diploma show …I was here, Photo: Kvetoslava Flora Sekanova
2/3 Kvetoslava Flora Sekanova: Diploma show …I was here, Munich, 2017; Photo: Kvetoslava Flora Sekanova
4 Kvetoslava Flora Sekanova: Diploma show …I was here, Munich, 2017; Photo: Carina Shoshtary
5 Kvetoslava Flora Sekanova: Go and f… yourself you dirty bastard;  Necklace, 2015; Glass, steel wire; 96 cm long; Photo: Kvetoslava Flora Sekanova
6 Kvetoslava Flora Sekanova: Hara What?; Necklace, 2016; Glass;  17 cm x12 cm x7 cm (pendant part), 109cm long; Photo:Kvetoslava Flora Sekanova
7 Kvetoslava Flora Sekanova: Rain; Necklace, 2014; Glass; 130cm long; Photo: Kvetoslava Flora Sekanova
8 Kvetoslava Flora Sekanova: Diploma show So What!, Munich, 2017; Photo: Carina Shoshtary
9 Kvetoslava Flora Sekanova: Diploma show …I was here, Munich, 2017; Photo: Kvetoslava Flora Sekanova