Several weeks ago, my friend forwarded me an email from her father (a jeweler) which contained an article about an interesting figure named J. Fred Woell. Last summer, I bought and was given several scrap pieces from my him to use in my own jewelry, since he did not need most of those pieces. This same man, he pointed out, "recycles" things as well.
After reading the article about the award Woell was given, I looked up a bit more about him. In curiosity, I discovered much about how he became who he is today, and what his craft is about, as well as many of his motives and ideas behind his pieces. His admiration came from a similar place mine did - the fascination of other's so called "junk". Beginning to design with pieces others had thrown out, he made work using found objects.
Because he uses pieces that our society has used and then thrown away, they often have cultural or political connotations and meanings. Everyone is likely to at least recognize pieces included in his artwork, and even have their own connection to it based on the familiar subject matter. Though he often changes and disfigures the pieces to make them more than what they looked like in a commercial state, he likes the idea behind reusing things.
Another connection I had to him was this very quote;
Embarking on a new piece, Woell often does not know ahead of time what he will use—he sorts and studies, and soon "things add up."
I am often like this. I collect pieces I like and would use in the future, but do not necessarily know how they will work with other pieces in the end, or what I will put it with. I may have compartments of chains and boxes of rings, pieces of old earrings and charms galore - but I never know how to put it all together until I lay them all out and choose what goes with what.
Since his beginning many years ago, he now teaches, and has been featured in several museums and galleries. In an attempt to push art over the troubles of American human nature, he stresses to show art as a passion and an emotional past time that is more than just spending time at the local mall. In the like, he says:
"We're certainly not living in a society where art is paramount in its interests," Woell remarks; "We're a lot more interested in sports and war and shopping at WalMart."
Being a college student, I may divulge in Walmart a little too often, and I have seen those fight over sports and war, but despite this, there are those of us who enjoy his craft, appreciate art, and like finding junk (much like myself). To finally show off some pieces, there are some as follows. Sorry for the small pictures, but examples of good digital quality seemed sparse.
Though I haven't had much time to create jewelry of my own, I'm glad to appreciate looking at others! Cheers, hope everyone had a good halloween!
Further reading / sources / cool articles: