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juin262012

Carolyn Morris Bach: Spirits, Myths and Earth Goddesses

 

Carolyn Morris Bach, 48-13 Fossilized Shell Pendant, Various Mediums, SmithKlein Gallery A mysterious, slender figure gazes at you from another world. Pale, with long bare legs she stands above a shell, perhaps about to enter it, maybe just coming out of it. The shell itself soon attracts your eye, as another figure emerges from its center: a moon-shaped face watches you enigmatically. These characters form a story to be yet discovered. They are framed by an enchanted barrier of golden twigs attached together: maybe protecting them, or holding them back from the normal world. Who are they? What is the story behind these figures? What is the role of the viewer in it? To the myths of which civilization do they belong? All these questions remain unanswered, and somehow this is comforting. It gives the spectator the part of the storyteller: it's up to you to invent and reinvent an appropriate tale for this jewelry piece. Because that's what it is: a brooch /pendant by artist Carolyn Morris Bach.

Carolyn Morris Bach, Bird Earrings, Various Mediums SmithKlein Gallery

Carolyn Morris Bach, Earrings, 18K gold and bone, Hoadley galleryWidely regarded as one of today's finest art jewelers, Carolyn Morris Bach studied jewelry and metalsmithing at the Rhode Island School of Design. Today, established in rural southern New England, on a 70 acres property, her studio overlooks pastures and forests, which might explain the intimate connection of this artist's work with nature and its cycles.

Featured in magazines as different as Vogue, Elle, Ornament Magazine and Lapidary Journal, her work is also represented in many museums throughout the United States and collected worldwide. Despite this large recognition of her work, the artist continues to feel that her pieces are intimately linked to their would-be owners, saying that “in the journey from her inspirations, through their transformations at the forge, her work is not really complete until it reaches the wearer.”Carolyn Morris Bach, 48-19 Fox Pendant, Various Mediums, SmithKlein Gallery

Bearing a very clear view about the relationship between form and function in jewelry, Carolyn Morris Bach states that "Jewelry-as-art depends as much on function and intimacy as it does on image. It tends to succeed when designed to be worn by a specific person. If the work ignores wrists, necks, earlobes, fingers, lapels and is directed instead primarily toward its photographic reproduction in a magazine or its forensic isolation of a museum display case appreciated only as an image or a visual object - it risks losing its identity: as adornment. Intentionally denied this purpose, jewelry becomes, ironically, a kind of performance art.”

Carolyn Morris Bach, 48-18 Rabbit Pendant, Various Mediums , SmithKlein Gallery

Carolyn Morris Bach, 48-8 Earrings with Pearls, Various Mediums , SmithKlein Gallery Working for more than 30 years in jewelry, Carolyn Morris Bach has developed over the time a very personal, distinct and immediately recognizable style composed of a mainly anthropomorphic imagery, featuring whimsical tiny creatures both animal and human. Talismans, totemic and shamanic figures, spirits, goddesses, magical creatures, moon-like deities form the universe of her elegant and enigmatic jewelry. In her own words “her work has developed along themes which are keyed to visual metaphors – often found in older iconographies – representing the powers of sun, moon, wind, rain, stones, plants and a selection of animals residents that determine the rural, non-industrial landscape.” Her pieces bewitch and fascinate you both by their subject as by their realization, and the combination of mystery and humor they convey beware them from being viewed as simply cute. A tranquil force seems to emanate from them, a force that attracts you like a magnet.



Carolyn Morris Bach, 48-10 Cat Pendant, Various Mediums, SmithKlein GalleryCarolyn Morris Bach, Necklace, Various MediumsCarolyn Morris Bach, Rabbit Earrings, Various Mediums, SmithKlein Gallery An incredible technician, Carolyn Morris Bach expertly builds her pieces out of 18k gold, silver and copper, along with different stones, woods and bones. Glossy finishes and hard edges are avoided, and her miniature carved bone figures are bathed in acid in order to avoid any plastic look. Each piece is carefully constructed and thoughtfully articulated, so that it will move with its wearer, giving it a friendly touch that entices him to play with it.“At the workbench, an intimate dialogue develops between artist and material. In the journey from the artist's mind to the forge to the wearer, a unique alchemy takes place in which the creation of art and the wearing of it become one and the same." states Bach.

Carolyn Morris Bach, Owl Brooch, Various mediums, Hoadley GalleryAbout the materials and the techniques she uses, she says that “Every piece of jewelry that leaves the studio is entirely hand-fabricated by me; I do not employ any studio assistants. I perform all processes - from designing to stone cutting and setting to packaging. While l incorporate some commercially made findings because I consider them generally well-made and innocuous to my design; I do not use cast or pre-made parts. While I strive for perfection in my design and craftsmanship, I am not overly concerned that every form requires perfectly rounded edges or that every element be an exact replication of its counterpart. If this is art, it should be individual and unique and preserve for the viewer deliberate traces of the decisions for fabrication: the passage of the hands through materials. I believe that the making of art-jewelry and the wearing of art-jewelry should be either closely allied or one and the same thing.” (Portfolio, American Craft February/March, 1989)



Carolyn Morris Bach, 48-15 Man Pendant, Various Mediums, SmithKlein Gallery

 

Denise and Samuel Wallace, Woman in the Moon Pendant / Brooch, Various MediumsHer Patricia Mc Cleery, Spirit pendant, Various mediumsart is not mainstream, nor does it fit in any precise category. Of course, other jewelers explore some of the same facets, like the Eskimo world for Denise and Samuel Wallace, or the persistence of old myths and allegories in the contemporary talismanic pieces of Patricia Mc Cleery. Nevertheless, Carolyn Morris Bach's work, with its both ancient and modern look remains perfectly unique, whispering to anyone willing to listen to it, its secrets about the spiritual mysteries of the natural world. Her “work contains life and energy; (her) own
insight and visions” as Christina K. Campbell states in her 1992 thesis. To continue to quote this author, “Bach's work (is) perhaps the most intriguing, straight forward approach to jewelry that I (have) ever seen. Her aesthetic sense (is) not dictated by the marketplace, and shows very distinct primitive and ethnic influences. (…) She seems to have wholly absorbed and synthesized the essence and imperfect beauty of the primitive cultures she so deftly draws inspiration from.”



Carolyn Morris Bach, 1984, Necklace, Various MediumsDominateCarolyn Morris Bach, Earrings, 18k gold, sterling silver, fossilized ivory, ebony , Hoadley Galleryd by a strong, highly feminine, enigmatic earth goddess figure Carolyn Morris Bach's poetic world is driven by nature, one of the main inspiration forces in her work. Human and goddess figures are interlaced with exuberant animals like birds, owls, rabbits, deers, bears, wolves, foxes, fishes and even cats and dogs. Branches and twined twigs frame sometimes these subjects. Inuit and Etruscan along with African cultures are also clearly perceptible in her work, but the final pieces are far from a mere mix of all these influences as the artist manages to create a perfectly unique, refined and personal universe, which is the base for an intimate yet open story that leaves space for the spectator's imagination.
Carolyn Morris Bach, Necklace 18k gold, sterling silver, ebony, Hoadley Gallery
Bach's work exudes an incredible force, seeming both to make reference to a mythic or allegorical tale and to play the part of an amulet, protecting its wearer from harm and evil. Nevertheless, in an article dating back to 1993 the artist says: “I believe that objects are inanimate. I do not put any power in those pieces. I'm not a powerful person. It's like the Indian objects -power comes from the people who have faith in them” (Ornament Magazine, Vol. 16, no. 3).
Carolyn Morris Bach: Brooch/ pendant, 18k gold, 22k gold, silver, dendritc quartz, moonstone, ebony, fossilized, ivory
In The Art Of Jewelry, by Lisa Crawford Watson, jewelry as a fine art is defined by the “purpose or intention behind the piece” as well as the fact that it was “handcrafted” either “using unconventional materials or traditional materials in unconventional ways. The closer the artist remains to the creative process, the closer the jewelry is to fine art.” After reading that and contemplating Bach's work, one can only say: Carolyn Morris Bach's jewelry is definitely fine art!

What do YOU think?

 

Carolyn Morris Bach, 48-12 Rabbit & Bird Pendant, Various Mediums SmithKlein Gallery

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This is a very good article. Thank you for a great information.

février 17, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSBO

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