Meet Ashley Buchanan, our May 2014 LEAP finalist! Ashley’s black, white, and yellow jewelry will be available in the SCC Store throughout July. Read more about her process and the inspiration behind her work below.
1. Tell us about your work.
My work is a series of hand-cut, powder coated metal that focuses on image, pattern and decoration in order to reference ornamentation and historical jewelry. I am interested in a reality that exists through images and representations and how the appearance of an object can substitute for the original. Utilizing silhouettes allows me to reduce these images down to their most basic form and reference the history of jewelry with a clean, contemporary aesthetic. This is reinforced through the use of powder coating, a process commonly used on an industrial scale to coat or color large metal objects with a durable, uniform finish. By using a limited color palette of black, white, greys and the occasional pop of yellow, I am able to allude to common colors of metal such as silver, gold and oxidized metal. The significance of the hand however is not forgotten; it is important for me to maintain a handmade quality in all of my work. In order to speak to the tradition of Craft and also to satisfy my passion for making, each piece is meticulously hand-pierced from sheet metal using a traditional jeweler’s saw. The use of repeated iconic imagery has proved to be very important to my work and in my most recent pieces, I have been exaggerating simple motifs such as teardrops, ovals and chain links while including hints of decoration in order to create pieces that are less recognizable than traditional silhouettes but maintain a familiar identity between the viewer/wearer and the object.
2. Tell us about your training/education/special mentors.
I began my training at the University of Georgia as a sculpture student and while in my second year of art school I was fortunate enough to study abroad in Cortona, Italy. While in Italy I had a wonderful sculpture professor, Chido Johnson, who really had an impact on me as an artist – he introduced me to stone carving and bronze casting which is what I did that entire summer. He also introduced me to my now former professor, Mary Pearse and she is the person who exposed me to my first jewelry studio and she is also the reason I became a jeweler. I felt that I was able to control my work more in jewelry than in sculpture and that my interests were more in line with jewelry and it just suited me upon returning to Athens I changed my major to Jewelry/Metalsmithing and received my BFA in December of 2009.
3. Why were you drawn to jewelry/metals?
As I stated before-I felt I could better control my work in jewelry rather than sculpture. I was also interested in how jewelry related to the body and how that relates to society, culture, and relationships. I also just respond well to metal – the strength, the delicacy, the movement, the history, etc.
4.What inspires you?
5. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received as a new artist?
“Stay focused and stay balanced.” It’s not that sexy but it’s very true. Also, “It’s ok, it’s just metal.”
6. What advice do you have for others considering a career in the arts?
You have to be fully committed to your work and to your passion. Be ready to work all the time. Be ready to spend a lot of time alone in your studio. Gain as many skills as you can, i.e. learn how to photograph your work, basic Photoshop skills, Illustrator, Excel, etc. Also, while in school, start setting yourself up to make your work on your own. Start building your studio, every time you make a materials order – order a tool!