Meet a Maker: Missy Graff Ballone

Interact - a series of work by Missy Graff Ballone. This series was photographed by Angelique Hanesworth of Eyespy photography.

Meet Missy Graff Ballone: our last 2017 summer visiting artist from West Orange, NJ.

Ballone is an art jeweler, who has exhibited nationally and internationally. Her work explores muscle tissue, layers of fascia, and the notion of flexibility through the format of jewelry. She combines her perspective of the body as a jeweler with her understanding of the human form as a massage therapist and founded Wellness for Makers, an organization strived to make self-care, stretching, and massage techniques more accessible to artists.

The Studio is excite to welcome Ballone, who will be teaching the “Wellness in Your Studio Practice” on August 26 and “Yoga in the Gallery” on August 27. These are unique workshops designed for artists and everyone to enhance wellness and productivity throughout their workday. Find your peace of mind in the Studio, reserve your seats now!

CC: What inspired you to create Wellness for Makers?

MGB: In addition to being an artist, I have been a Massage Therapist and yoga practitioner for the last ten years. I have noticed that a lot of artists are aware of the negative effects that their practice can have on their body, but either they don’t know what they can do to change it or they openly accept that chronic pain is inevitable. As a wellness practitioner, I feel a sense of responsibility to help educate artists and craftsmen about what they can do to develop healthier work habits.

I created Wellness for Makers to do just that. I now lead lectures and workshops at universities, art & craft centers, creative non-profits, museums, collaborative studios, retreats, and other fun places where people are making art!

Wellness for Makers LLC

CC: Could you briefly describe why it’s important for artists to create a sustainable studio practice?

MGB: The goal for mosts artists is to make work for the rest of their lives and I don’t believe that we need to sacrifice our health in the process. The purpose of developing a sustainable studio practice is to improve the longevity of our hands and bodies. I believe that by incorporating a variety of movements, stretching, and massage techniques into our daily practice, we can reduce the risk of certain types of injuries, especially repetitive strain injuries.

CC: How do you find inspiration for your own work?

MGB: My work is influenced by my tactile understanding of the body, so I use materials that can mimic muscle tissue or fascia, which is the connective tissue that binds the body’s internal structures together. I want the viewer to feel compelled to interact with my work by stretching or compressing the material, so I use a skin-safe silicone rubber that can be stretched to two or three times its normal length. The purpose of this type of interaction is to prompt the viewer to think about their own strengths and limitations and their relationship to the body. I primarily make necklaces because the neck is the most common area in which people recognize they have tension.

CC: What advice would you give to emerging artists?

MBG:

  1. Improve your work habits sooner than later! People often wait until they are experiencing pain to take action. Reduce your risk of injury by improving your habits today.

  2. Take a movement break! Adding movement to your day will increase blood flow, circulation, and energy levels. Taking a movement break can help you become more productive when you get back to work. Go for a walk.

  3. Join me at one of Wellness For Makers’ upcoming events for more tips and tricks on how to create healthier studio habits.