Jennifer Merchant

June 20, 2021

Jennifer Merchant-Pistachios

Jennifer Merchant is one of the 8 artists featured in our show 'Form & Function' from May 8th - August 7th, 2021. The artists in this show blur the lines between sculptural and wearable, and are experimental in the forms they incorporate into their pieces. Shop the entire exhibition HERE 
 

 

 

Q: Where did you study Jewelry/Metalsmithing and where?

A: Savannah College of Art and Design

 

Q: What inspires your work?

A: The world around me. More specifically; geometric forms, the optical qualities of acrylic and how I can exploit them, and visual story telling through imagery and color exploration.

 

Q: Do you have a favorite piece you've made?

A: My favorite pieces are the ones where I get to figure something out, solve a design problem, or engineer a new component. My other favorites are ones where I was able to use the layered images in clever ways.

 

 

 

Q: What made you want to start making jewelry?

A: I have always been attracted to jewelry. When I had the opportunity to take a jewelry making class in high school I fell in love. Working with my hands to create scultpural pieces that can be worn on the body, jewelry has always had the power to make me feel special the minute I put it on, now I can share that joy with others through my work.

 

 

Q: What is your favorite process? Why that one over others?

A: I have developed my own process of layering acrylic with printed papers that I call layered acrylic. I enjoy carving and sculpting this layered material because of its optical properties, and the infinite possibilities of images and colors for each piece.

 

 

Q: Who is your favorite artist/who do you wear?

A: I have many favorite artists, but I don't tend to wear them, or jewelry at all for that matter. I used to wear jewelry more often, but now I stick to sentimental pieces or wear my own work (I like to give pieces a test drive as wearability is very important to me). I am more of a maker than collector at this point, but I hope that changes!

 

Q: Is there an artist on your personal wishlist that you hope to own one day?

A: I would die for one of Nikki Couppee's statement necklaces, or an amazing cocktail ring by Iker Ortiz

 

Q: What is something you would want someone to know about your work that they might not know?

A: All of my work is cut and shaped by hand. I also source all of the images I use in the layered acrylic process from new and used books (and sometimes magazines and auction catalogs.) I enjoy working with found imagery, it often informs the over all design and forms of my pieces.

 

 

 

Q: When you're not making jewelry, what are you doing?

A: I love being outdoors and enjoying the beauty and physical challenges of nature. One of my favorite experiences was traveling the north island of New Zealand solo and completing the Tongerero alpine crossing.

 

 

 

Q: What attracted you to this material versus more traditional jewelry making practices such as metal and stones? 

A: At first I started using alternative materials because of limitations. I didn’t have the tools and equipment to work in metal when I first graduated from college and set up my own studio. I had a lot of student debt so I had to be creative about working with inexpensive materials and few tools. I fell in love working with acrylic because of its optical properties. Working with acrylic is deceptively difficult, but I enjoyed the challenge and the end results were worth the effort. The jewelry market is heavily saturated and standing out is very difficult, working with unusual materials and creating my own process allowed me to have a unique voice and aesthetic that got my work noticed.

 

 

 

Q: Do you feel that you visualize an object and then transform it into a wearable piece, or does the concept materialize as a smaller form and then grow from there? 

A: Sometimes I visualize a final piece and then create it. Other times I have a general idea of a direction to explore and start carving away at the material and let it speak to me. Sometimes I start trying to do one thing and it just doesn’t work out the way I thought but turns into something new and unexpected.

 

 

Q: What is the importance/significance of the connection between sculptural and wearable to you? 

A: Wearability is extremely important to me, although I do like to push the boundaries. Even if I get a little wild with the scale of a piece, it should still be wearable. I enjoy creating very sculptural pieces that add volume to the body to attract attention. My motto is “if you can’t see it from 10 feet away, why wear it?”

 

Q: When looking at other artists, do you find yourself drawn more towards metalsmiths and jewelry makers or sculptors and object makers? 

A: I am drawn to all types of art, craft, and design. I am drawn to composition, balance, color, form, and visual illusions. I do look at a lot of visual art through books as they are a source of raw materials in my work. I do have a special appreciation for process, so I am very drawn to makers and works that are very process driven.

 

Q: What is the relationship between form and function for you and your work? Is one more important than the other?

A: It really depends on the piece itself. A statement piece is going to lean more toward form, while a great line of production earrings leans a bit more toward function and wearability. Both are very important to me, a successful piece finds just the right balance of both. Finding that balance is the real challenge, it’s a thrill to finish a new piece and put it on and know that in not only looks great but feels great too.

 

 

 Jennifer Merchant
She/Her
Minneapolis, MN

 

To view her whole collection, CLICK HERE





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