I recently shared this quick little video on social media, and someone asked me why I incorporate jewelry into my work as much as I do.
They caught me at a bad time, and it wasn't something I was prepared to go into. Because there is a lot of reasons why I love jewelry, and I'd need more than a quick Instagram message to go over it.
Now, I'm sure they weren't expecting me to need a full journal post to explain, but hopefully, they find this because I will unquestionably chat about it for as long as you'll listen.
From a technical perspective, as a photographer, I love the specular highlights jewelry adds to my collages. Each piece also adds a bit of shaping quality which can be useful. I find that you can "read" a grouping of flowers as a recognizable hand more comfortably if it's wearing a ring to give you context.
But I don't include jewelry just for the beauty and usefulness of it; I also love the storytelling abilities it has.
Jewelry is often a symbol of power, whether it's King Philips II's very real crown of golden oak leaves or Rembrants imaginary gold chains; when we look at it, we read value. And I'm doing work about people like you, fragile as a flower and as powerful as a gold.
It's also a shared experience that we all can relate too. One hundred thirty-five thousand years ago Neanderthals were making jewelry and adorning themselves with eagle talons. I'd wager that just about every human since has had at least some sort of adornment they have worn, even if they made it themselves. So even if we aren't familiar with wearing a crown each day, we can relate to the notion of it.
I use these familiar items in my strange world symbolically, often referencing symbols found in art history. Some of these items would be instantly readable as having a secondary meaning in their contemporary times, and I find that even if the specifics are lost today, often they are still familiar, such as Elizabeth I's the use of the color white and pearls to emphasize her virginity. I like to add these little tidbits and play them against our modern ideals.
So thank you random Instagram follower for opening that pandora's box.