LEAP Finalist: Tara Locklear

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Some of you may recognize Tara Locklear from the cover of our fall 2013 Studio catalog. Her jewelry making workshop and artist talk were big hits, so we’re thrilled to welcome her back as February’s featured LEAP finalist in the SCC Store! Read on to learn more about Tara’s process and inspiration.  Her bold, statement-making jewelry is available for sale until April 2014. Don’t miss it!

SCC: Tell us about your work.

Bringing industrial and cultural building blocks of our daily environment into the focus of viewers is the foundation of my work. The research, exploration, and formation of these materials are at the very core of my practice. From recycled skateboards holding the footprint of past riders to cast concrete, the trademark of masons, my materials all have inherent beauty, strength and value beyond their functioning identity.Using these undervalued and overlooked items; I hope to evoke discussions of memories and raise questions of what jewelry is and can be. Perceived function of these materials by the viewer in our life script lend to the how these objects are approached. Using these materials in a sculptural format help to convey my idea that jewelry is and can be anything the wearer desires.

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SCC: Tell us about your training/education/special mentors.

I received my BFA in Jewelry / Small Metal Design from East Carolina University in the spring of 2012. I was very fortunate to study under the five instructors there, including Robert Ebendorf and Linda Darty. I have since then taken several summer classes at Penland School of Crafts under Dan DiCaprio in wood working and Arthur Hash in enameling. I feel like my training will forever continue throughout the years.

I have to say that I have many special friends and mentors who have helped and continue to help me with my studio practice. It is a blessing to be surrounded and embraced by some many amazing artists! I must talk about two particular artists and metals family mentors and friends who have had a great deal of shaping me today, Robert Ebendorf and Jim Cotter. Bob has such a huge impact on the way I approach my bench and the field of jewelry making. He has helped me to turn my frustrations into good work. Being such an Omni present figure in my academic career as well as studio practice, his tidbits on leading a productive and well balanced life ring clear to me everyday. He has shared how to fall down and brush your knees off so you can back up and start again. He also helped me to be ok with being scared of not knowing what I was doing in the world of metals but to just know that I loved it and to keep working at it. Bob is constantly educating me on our field and the makers who made what contemporary jewelry what is today. Jim has really given me a clear view into what a successful business model of jewelry is in addition to a successful family life balance. He has always been there for me now matter how big or small the question may be. If he didn’t know the answer, he would figure it out and get back to me. He is truly a selfless maker and friend. Cotter’s zest for making and quest for material knowledge is unyielding and I can only hope that after making for over 45 years I can say the same. His mottos of happy making always haunt me in a daily manta: always make something everyday happily and be thankful you can. Wouldn’t change a thing!

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SCC: Why are you drawn to jewelry?

I really have a love affair with metal fabrication coupled with color. The color may come in different forms of material: wood, concrete just to name a few of my favorites. I love the endless opportunities that color holds for my future of material investigation.

SCC: What inspires you?

Pretty much everything and everywhere. I love people watching. I love fashion design. I am particularly enamored with mid-century design period. I love sitting and staring at architecture and wearable designs of this time period. The clean lines with flair of color that I just draws me in.

SCC: What is the best piece of advice you’ve received as a new artist?

I have always been told to take everything everyone says with a grain of salt. To keep all of it inside and keep what resonates with you. Be open to new ideas and know when you are ready to stand up for what you have made. Make everyday.

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SCC: What advice do you have for others considering a career in the arts?

Boy this is hard! I would say to stay true to your sense of design and self. Self-awareness is ever evolving and a search I investigate everyday. The more I discover about myself reflects in my design aesthetics. The truer I can be helps me get closer to a personal success, which I believe reflects in my work.