I remember sneaking into my grandmother’s room when I was a little boy to rummage through her jewelry box. I didn’t want to wear her jewelry, I was just fascinated by the objects, both aesthetically and as things that related so closely to the woman. Many years later I attended the Cleveland Institute of Art on scholarship, largely on the merits of the jewelry and metalsmithing in my portfolio. I had to leave art school when life got in the way: a child and car payment and a small house in the suburbs, and all the bills that go along with those things. I worked a good paying job in the day and spent my nights making furniture and building tree houses and remodeling bathrooms. I partnered in a small artisan jewelry store in Cleveland for about four years, but none of the work was mine; I was back to playing in someone else’s jewelry box. I couldn’t live like that.
Making isn’t a hobby or a career or even a passion; it’s a compulsion, a way of life. I create for the sake of creating as much as the objects I produce, so I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what defines an object as art. For instance, continuing in terms of jewelry, what’s the difference between an original piece crafted from silver and sold in a gallery for a hundred bucks and a sparkly, mass produced diamond pendant that sells in a chain store for 50 times that? Why do I think the $100 necklace is art and have more respect for the person who wears it?
A successful piece begins with a relationship between the artist and the object they’re creating. As an artist I believe we send our work out into the world and let it go, full of our intent but open for interpretation, always imbued with the power of the relationship. When a viewer or patron sees that piece a new relationship is formed, based on appreciation for the concept, or the craftsmanship, or simply the form. Their relationship with the piece belongs to them, but if I’ve done my part I’ve offered someone something to connect with.
When my grandmother passed away I took almost everything out of her jewelry box. A part of me felt selfish, knowing that I’d never use any of it in the way it was intended, but I appreciated it more than another family member who would wear it to match an outfit. These objects had a life of their own to me, a history, personality. They symbolized a relationship and carried the weight of my childhood. As an artist this kind of meaning is what I’m here to create. I’m here to imbue objects with personality, I’m here to bring objects to life. For more information or to view artwork visit Joshdavy.com