One of my main hopes with this site has always been that we can introduce readers to the work of new artists, from time to time, whether that pertains to the fields of music, fine art, film, or otherwise, if not, particular genres and artforms themselves. And the desire isn’t just to feature “new” artists or, rather, artists that the reader may not be familiar with, but also something that we can actually get behind and endorse. If you saw the amount of stuff that we are sent on a daily basis, you’d realize just how minute of a percentage that I truly feel like dealing with. Sure, a lot of that is due to limited resources and the fact that I’m still handling most of the work myself, but just as much of a factor is the fact that, while certain things do truly intrigue and move me, the majority of the things that I come across, simply do not. In regards to visual art, we’ve posted a number of previews and pieces surrounding group exhibits, over the years, and, as brilliant as so much of the art in those shows can be, putting the contributions of a large pool of different artists on display side-by-side can, unfortunately, also work to highlight how uninspired and derivative so much of the field often is. In fact, in a world where the concepts of monetary value, collectability, and financial investments are welcomed in to suffocate the purity of self expression like noxious gas, the biggest names featured in a group exhibit can easily draw the most attention, even when much stronger pieces are being shown and sold for much less by those who aren’t quite as well established. That being said, if the work is strong enough, consistent enough, and is supported by a perspective that is unique enough, I believe that it has to shine through, eventually, regardless of anything that surrounds it. And it is within these conditions that I first became aware of the work of Florida-based artist, Rebecca Rose, the undeniable power of her compelling wearable fine art sculpture pieces (known as “sculpturings”) glistening among the murk and mobs of endless other pieces equally vying for attention.
The most immediate appeal of Rebecca‘s art is clearly drawn from the unique medium in which she works. Employing a technique referred to as “kitbashing,” she creates elaborate, yet wearable, jewelry — namely rings — by utilizing “found and burnable objects reminiscent of childhood toys, game pieces, organic materials, and imported miniatures in order to convey a narrative or story.” From there, her sculptures are cast in silver and displayed tastefully in hand blown glass cloche domes. And while the sculptor integrates found objects into her creations, it’s the way in which she assembles them and the narratives that she is offering up, which truly set the final products apart from the herd. For her brand new solo exhibit, The Spinster & The Carpenter, opening tomorrow night at The Twilight Gallery & Boutique in Seattle, those narratives are as ambitious and deeply personal as anything that we’ve seen her approach to this point. For an artist who we’ve become more familiar with through pop-culture related shows, the idea of experiencing a broader scope of her work, both in quantity and depth, is something that I’m genuinely excited about.
The first piece by Rebecca Rose that I really remember jumping out at me was “Seafaring,” a sculpturing paying tribute to the film Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou that was created for Spoke Art gallery‘s annual Wes Anderson themed exhibit, Bad Dads. The eye-catching design featured the title character’s ship, “The Belafonte,” mounted by a jaguar shark, all supported on a band shaped like a fishtail. Beyond the precious metal used in its construction, it was clearly worth much more than the modest price-tag would suggest, even then. At last year’s David Lynch themed exhibit, held at the same gallery, Rebecca managed to fit a furnished room, complete with characters, onto a ring band to represent a set from the director’s 1990s cult television series, Twin Peaks. When you see something like that, it demands your attention, but what has sustained my interest goes beyond a simple gimmick, or variance in medium; what may impress me the most is that the artist has demonstrated a clear dedication to the evolution of her work. Since initially getting the idea to create her first sculptural jewelry piece a-decade-and-a-half ago, while attending NAU on an arts scholarship, it is evident that she has only continued to tirelessly devote herself to honing her technique and mastering her chosen craft, further — it shows in the work. By building her own lane and, essentially, creating a whole new medium, there is no real predefined ceiling for her to reach, or limitation established for what she does, or is capable of achieving through this vein. The potential is limitless, yet, arguably, not mandatory to pursue so fervently, depending on what one hopes to achieve, seeing as the novelty of such a unique medium, alone, could easily be enough to float on for years to come. But, if Rebecca‘s desire to continue to push herself on technical and conceptual levels, never content with resting on the praise that she’s already received, doesn’t already say enough about her character, her willingness to delve into the darkest and most personal territories of her life and put that history on display for the public, speaks volumes.
If there’s anything that trumps Rebecca Rose‘s desire to perfect her skills and continue to grow as an artist, it has to be the dedication that she is demonstrating for her own evolution as a woman, individual, and a human vessel, in general, stumbling around this ridiculous planet. ForThe Spinster & The Carpenter, Rose will be featuring 15 new works, each displayed alongside the extremely telling, personal backstories that inspired them. These narratives involve the artist bravely exposing herself by referencing very specific elements and situations from her real life that touch on such subject matter as vanity, crippling insecurity, sexual promiscuity/abuse, racism, suicidal depression, gender inequality, abuse of power, complicity, guilt, compassion, shame, and fear, all under an implied umbrella of bringing self awareness and moving beyond all of it. And when I use the terms “specific” and “personal,” I mean that; there is nothing vague about the confessions that accompany these works — they are incredibly direct, even overwhelming, at times. There has to be an element of terror in presenting something so raw and unfiltered for public consumption — an action that is truly commendable — but such bold moves are necessary to genuinely disintegrate an individual’s self-imposed limitations. What better analogy is there for her journey than her chosen craft, itself, which involves taking disparate, broken, and discarded elements of the past and forging something new and beautiful from them — out of precious metal no less — wearing them proudly, or showcasing them through a delicate 360° clear glass display.
By exposing these situations that are unique to her own life, it becomes a gift to both others, as well as herself; there are endless people who have experienced the type of situations and emotions presented in the show and secretly hold such pain and insecurity within themselves. On a more “selfish” level, by providing oneself with no avenue for escape, such a public exhibition of one’s deepest self can be a powerful tool to shed old skin and embrace personal acceptance, but the willingness to embrace that process in such a public forum also provides a potent message to so many others that can, hopefully, obtain some degree of solace in knowing that, while the details of their own personal situations and struggles may be unique, they are not alone in their fight to come to terms with their greater themes. To pull the opening line from Built To Spill frontman, Doug Martsch’s track, “Lift,” from his remarkable 2002 solo album, Now You Know, “If you are lonely, you’re not alone.” Do for yourself from an honest place and you have the potential to heal others and, whether or not Rebecca‘s intentions reside at all in that latter goal, she seems to be willing enough to take this process to it’s limit. Not only is she flying out to be on hand at the exhibit opening, this Thursday, April 9th, standing like an open book beside these reflections of still-healing scars and self-analyses in progress, but she will also be staying throughout the weekend to give a detailed talk about the exhibit and her work at the gallery on Saturday.
If you will be in the Seattle area and are able to make it out to either of these events, or both, you should definitely make the effort. The opening is free to the public and will feature live accompaniment by cellist, Sarah McGrath, performing songs loosely related to the work, while Saturday‘s talk will include an artist signing of the brand new May 2015 issue of Art Jewelry Magazine (for sale at the events), which features an extensive 7-page spread on Rebecca, highlighting her creation process.
The following quotes from the artist, taken from the press release, further elaborate on the themes and intention behind the show:
“I finally face the regrets in my life & hold myself accountable for the choices that I alone made, caused and learned from as an independent woman, even when married. I atone for these choices, and take a deep hard look at myself while doing so, while finding non-religious redemption along the way as I become a stronger person.” She also says the pieces reflect moments when we come to terms with ourselves, our deeds, and the actions we’ve taken that hurt us the most when the chickens finally come home to roost.
“A spinster lives in all of us, because we ultimately make choices alone and on our own, and should hold ourselves accountable for the consequences and regrets we face. A carpenter lives in all of as too, because we learn from those choices and rebuild ourselves internally, which is a necessary step for self fulfillment, like laying a new foundation from the ground up. This is how we elevate ourselves to a higher state of being.”
Check out a handful of preview images for the exhibit, along with full descriptions, after the following event details…
The Spinster And The Carpenter
A Diary of New Wearable Sculptures
Thusday, April 9th
Artist Talk/Magazine Signing
Saturday, April 11th
Twilight Gallery & Boutique
4306 SW Alaska Street
Seattle, WA. 98116
Both events are ALL AGES w/NO COVER
Gallery hours: Monday – Friday 11 to 7-ish / Sat 11 – 6 -ish / Sun 11 – 5-ish
Facebook Event Page (opening night reception): https://www.facebook.com/events/911887052195476/
Facebook Event Page (talk / signing): https://www.facebook.com/events/936366493049541/
[click select images to enlarge]
“Harboring” discusses the burden of harboring a family member’s deep secret, and mustering the strength to keep the secret from the rest of the family. The three figures standing on a soapbox represent the family members’ judgmental and underlying homophobic tendencies, which are the reasons why I’m the only one in the family who knows the truth.
The band is made to resemble an HIV/AIDS ribbon, the cello represents me, and the strongman represents the self absorbed audaciousness that stems from me thinking that keeping a secret is such a burden when I should really be focusing on how the burden of the situation is placed on my love one living through it. I should focus on how hard it is for the family member who is actually dealing with it firsthand, and comfort them more through it. I feel guilty about feeling this way, I mean really, how dare I?
Altering” is a wearable self portrait depicting areas of modern society about which I feel pressure to contribute portions of my life. Here the spotlight is on the authoritative, preachy, and materialistic figures I looked to for answers most of my life, both real and abstractly. The piece is about altering your state of mind and growing up beyond imposed restraints, looking within oneself for answers even if it tears you from everything that you knew and trusted.
Bound by obedience from disciplined expectations imposed during childhood, as an adult I feel compelled to give a piece of me towards spirituality, authority, & responsibility, even though it counters my individual nature.
“Philandering” represents the 8.5 lovers I’ve taken in my life. Like most 20somethings, I was really careless with my body with one night stands, threesomes, and lesbian experiences, with each peg representing each lover. The .5 lover is accounted for only partly because I’m not sure if I was date raped by him or not. I don’t bring this up callously, I truly don’t know what happened, and no evidence exists to suggest or accuse him of such a deed.
I was living and working in Osaka, Japan at the time and was hanging with a friend of mine for a few weeks. He was 54 at the time, 33 years my senior, and played Santa Claus in between wining and dining me. One night I came back to the table and my drink tasted odd. The details are still fuzzy, but I woke up the next morning and he was on top of me saying how great of a time we had making love the night before. I freaked out, he responded by saying he was only joking, and to this day am still unsure as to what happened.
During my time dating, I was kidding myself while playing the field. I found happiness when I swore off sex in my Amoeba phase, existing as a single organism before meeting my husband. Meeting him changed my life because I wasn’t looking for someone to love or love me back. By not looking, I wasn’t trying to impress anyone, nor acting like someone I’m not, nor vying for another’s affection. Living this way allowed me to be myself at the purest level and was myself so truly, that I knew when we fell in love it was the real deal because it didn’t involve any fancy posturing.
“Mothering” is about our believed inability to have, as well as our choice to not raise children. Although fertility drugs and test tubes are a medical option, I struggle with the idea of being imprisoned by parenthood, much like a baby in a crib, which is made of test tubes in this piece. Instead, this depicts how we’ve anthropomorphized our dogs into the children we never had.
“Suffering” is for anyone who has dealt with severe, debilitating depression firsthand. This piece represents the close calls my depression got the best of me leading to attempted suicide.
The bottle of water, jar of pills, cacti, and wedding cake topper symbolize at time when I was finishing up my solo show in college right before my brother got married in Arizona. Overwhelmed with pressure and seemingly unmeetable expectations, I bought the largest bottle of water I could find and the largest package of sleeping pills the box store had to offer. The trouble is, I was more focused on the quantity of the package instead of the ingredients. When I groggily awoke shaken by my companion at the time, I soon discovered that I had consumed an entire package of all natural herbal sleeping pills, hardly the type that would end someones life.
A therapist described how my experiences resembled that of Lincoln’s, who dealt with severe depression, and lived with it as a dark passenger that followed him everywhere. The phone represents the first time I called the National Suicide Hotline, and the phone cord makes up the ring band. The abacus represents trying to figure out how many times I’ll have to cope with this risky threat during a lifetime.