Yevgeniya Kaganovich

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“Pearl Clasp Necklace 2”; rhodium plated silver,porcelain, fresh water pearls, silk thread

In making Jewelry I am interested in exploring the cultural and social functions of adornment. I am fascinated by the function of craft objects beyond utility. Specifically, I am interested in how jewelry functions to signal identity, power, fraternity, and status, as well as its ability to communicate ideas about the wearer, project a desired image, attract, and seduce.

Much of how a piece of adornment functions is determined by the materials and the value attributed to these materials. Pearls, for example, are highly valued and have many different, sometimes diametrically opposing connotations: prestige, status, wealth, power, glamour, celebrity, purity, innocence, corruption, and seduction. The pearl operates as a signifier of these cultural constructs. But considering its origin, a pearl is a scar, an imperfection that has been glorified, elevated to a status of preciousness, and ascribed a high monetary value. For all of its cultural conditions, prestige and historical statue, it has a meager beginning as a mere irritation, an anomaly. The Pearl Necklace Series explores the cultural value of pearls by transforming small fresh water pearls into an image of a large perfect pearl necklace. The juxtaposition of precious and experimental materials questions the cultural value of precious jewelry. Various strategies, such as blanking, silhouetting, inflating or flattening the image transform the work into iconic images of jewelry. The pieces are both literally and culturally images of a pearl necklace.

The Pearl Clasp Necklace Series utilizes altered images of a traditional pearl clasp and porcelain “pearls”. The clasp flatten, gradate and deform, loosing their function in this transition and becoming decorative elements. Porcelain slip is cast into images of pearls that gain their nacre form actual fresh water pearls that have been crushed and fired to a very high temperature onto the surface of the porcelain, making a transparent blue glaze. Fresh water pearls are transformed into puddles of luster on the surface of otherwise seemingly soft, slightly deformed large round porcelain forms. Fusing the two precious materials, fresh water pearls and porcelain, changes both, creating a new kind of precious jewel.

Plastic Bag Wearable is a series of pieces that simulate plant and mycelia -like forms, utilizing reused plastic bags as base material. The layers of plastic are fused together to create a surface similar to leather or skin, molded into plant-like volumes, connected with plastic bag “thread” and stuffed with plastic bags, creating objects made out a singular material, reused plastic. Playful and a bit alien, these pieces juxtapose the discarded artificial material with organic forms in various formats of jewelry, which we come to associate with preciousness.

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“Pearl Clasp Necklace 4”; rhodium plated silver, porcelain, fresh water pearls, silk thread, glaze made by fresh water pearls fired to cone 13, lacquer