Thursday, February 25, 2010

Cosmetics and women

Source here.

Pierre Gravel and others even believe that the practice of highlighting the eye with eyeliner and eye make-up (a practice common throughout the world) originated as a protective ritual against the ancient, omnipotent force known as the Evil Eye:

"It may be significant that women, who are traditionally among those who have to be 'protected' against the Evil Eye, are the ones who generally wear cosmetics. It may also be that there was originally an affiliation between the two meanings of the Greek word 'cosmos'...which means both 'Universe' and 'ornament.'"


Quoted from a paper written by Rebecca Resinski

Pandora--the first human woman and created to cause trouble for mortal men forever--is the most artificial creature in the Hesiodic cosmos. Instead of naturally emerging from the genealogies Hesiod traces, Pandora is fashioned like a clay pot and then decorated before she is endowed with language and life. Hesiod's accounts of Pandora's creation in the Theogony (570-589) and Works and Days (60-105) are not similar in all details, but they do both emphasize the adornment of this first woman. In both works, Pandora is molded by Hephaestus and then belted by Athena. In the Theogony, Athena alone continues the extensive adorning with silver clothing, a clever veil, garlands of flowers, and a gold diadem crafted by Hephaestus. In this version of Pandora's creation, 13 out of 20 lines are devoted to her decoration. In Works and Days, the Graces, Persuasion, and the Hours help Athena to deck Pandora with golden necklaces and fresh flowers. In this narrative, Pandora's decoration is placed before her endowment with speech and personality; her adornment precedes the animation of her body and, indeed, is so bound up in the creation of her body that it is part of it. Vernant's phrasing is apt when he says that Pandora's cosmetic decorations are "integrated into her anatomy"--they are not supplemental to her body, for the first female's body is always already adorned.

If the primary focus of Pandora's fashioning is on her adornment, Hesiod's next concern is with her deceitfulness, which complements her cosmetic elaboration. Pandora's adorned body is activated with Hermes' gifts of "lies and wheedling words and a thievish nature" (WD 78) which he places inside her. A beautiful exterior with a nasty interior, Pandora is sent to Epimetheus as a tricky evil intended by Zeus to balance out the good humans received from fire. And how does Hesiod describe the evil caused by the deceitful, adorned female body and the race of women descended from it? First, of course, Pandora opens the pithos, thereby unleashing ills on the mortal world. But Pandora and women present continuing cares and dangers to mortal men, as well: for the tricky bodies and natures which women inherit from Pandora make their child-bearing a suspect activity. Perhaps women will use their crafty minds and cosmeticized surfaces to beguile their husbands out of rightful paternity. Such seems to be the worry informing Hesiod's reproductive ideal, when among just people "wives give birth to children like their fathers." (WD 235) Ideally, the external charms and internal disposition of a woman's body are deactivated and she becomes transparently the medium in and through which her husband produces offspring resembling himself.

Musings on narratives

I started to talk about narratives a bit. I didn't really get into the meat of the discussion, which I had with my husband Travis after I made the post, and thought about to a greater extent for the rest of the evening. Allow me to divulge.

I was touching on some things that I've been musing about for some time now. For me, personally, its really hard to pin down my style as an artist. I know what I like, but knowing how to apply that to what I'm thinking and what I'm making is often a really difficult task for me. I think this has all been culminating over some time now. Looking at jewelry blogs every day, contemporary work in new books that I buy, DIY stuff that's happening in my community... I've been developing these thoughts about it. I'm not a huge fan of contemporary jewelry, never have been. That's a large blanket statement, really, cause there's tons of different styles that fit the category "contemporary", and some of them I do legitimately like. I mean, technically, what I'm making is contemporary, and I'm not really sure what categories jewelry being made now fit in to. And not to knock those artists, I think that what people make today is valid, important, and contextual in relation to the modern history of jewelry making. But there's a few trends I'm a little tired of seeing.
  1. Botanical themes. Jewelry that is natural objects cast in metal, or jewelry that is supposed to mimic nature. I think these are really pretty, of course (I'm guilty of it, I love tree branches and motifs). But I feel like I see these everywhere. EVERYWHERE.
  2. Ultra-modernist abstract shapes of gems and metal piled on top of each other in asymmetrical compositions. Sometimes these involve red string. Again, I think some of these are pretty awesome, but its trending pretty hard right now, and I'm not a huge fan of modern art in general let alone jewelry or body art that is mimicking it.
  3. Recycled, green, or alternative materials. Yes, this is a hot topic in our culture in general currently, and has been for a few years. I think the idea behind this type of artwork is really beautiful, and sometimes so are the pieces being made. But I feel like its been seriously overdone, and while I like to be surprised by materials, I feel to a certain extent like the materials don't directly relate to the work being made, and that those materials are just being used to be used.

Why all the hate on contemporary jewelry standards, you're asking? Well, its not really hate, its just not my aesthetic. There! I've come to terms with that. I think a lot of my thinking in the past few years is "how can I fit my work into this contemporary aesthetic so I can sell it to galleries who will consider it to be art?" when I should have been thinking "what is it that I'm trying to say, what is my aesthetic?" Developing a style is one of the things I struggled with in art school, and something I struggle with to this day. I don't have a definitive style. I latch on to other styles, and while my work has some style, its not completely my own. I think this is part of what's taking me so long to make this next body of work. I'm having a major design crisis. I like my old pendants, but I feel like they aren't saying entirely what I want to say.

SO, all this to say I had a bit of a revelation last night. All the things I've been thinking about kinda came to a head when I started looking at the Symbolists again, especially Beardsley. Let me try and lay this out.

These are the images and ideas I've been bouncing around:
  • Modern and Ancient ideas of Femininity
  • Mythology
  • Magic and Talismans
  • Ancient styles and Victorian styles
  • Duality
  • Narrative - illustrative elements based on archetypal or ancient stories and images
  • Stark design elements - silhouettes, black oxidized metal, antique colors and large shapes
And then I realized... I CAN DO ALL OF THESE AT ONCE. So what I'm going to try and do is combine all these ideas and aesthetics. I want to create a new series, that has a black linework style, with a narrative that concerns the archetypal images of women in myth, their relations with desire, memory, and temptation, and reverse these images (role-reversal, put women in a place that's unexpected). The example I gave last night was Eve tempting the devil with an apple. This, in a way, is a magical act, revealing the truth behind the modern illusion of the image of the woman.

These are still pretty preliminary thoughts. But I'm excited about it. More to come.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


So, I love stories. Who doesn't, right? I'm beginning to think that I'm going to have to figure out what story I want to tell before I can begin to just assign it symbols. I mean, I know there's some symbols I like, and some that already have stories, but I want to manipulate them more to work for me, not just retell, y'know, what's already been told.
To a certain extent I think it is about communicating these old ideas that I'm obsessed with, arcane knowledges and mystical connections and archetypal strengths and mythological proportions. So it is about telling old stories. But its also about telling my story, and telling the wearers story, and how all three of those things will connect. And of course, making it pretty.
Grasping for imagery here. How does it relate? How do these things tie together?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Doing some research




Looking up some narrative and allegorical work. I've always been intrigued by this type of work, as well as the symbolists. It's something I've been dwelling on recently, so I'm gonna look into it a bit more. I'm torn right now between painting styles and etched styles. I think this linework would look rockin on a pendant. I know, sketching would help, right? Heh.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

quick sketch

Meant to do more of these today. Turns out snow days are like days off after all! Had a relaxing bout of looking at books and pondering what techniques to use, and trying to figure out how I'll be able to do some camaieu enameling.

Sunday, February 14, 2010


I've collected some images today of what I'm thinking of for this series of duality pieces. For some reason, this idea's got a hold on me. My plan is to put up a cork board in my studio, so I can actually look at these pieces while I'm working. Here's a few of them, plus my sketches for the day.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

So then...

... i had this idea about duality. You can see my notes on the sketch. These are far more viable projects right now, i could easily make two enameled pieces, i'm picturing a tan/white background with sepia or gray drawings on top. then set them, attach some chains. the latch would be in the front. i think this might be a good starting series before i jump into more sculptural work.
one day soon i'll get in the studio. when colds have come to an end and free time is more readily available. going to see tonight: Wolfman!

Monday, February 8, 2010

snaaaaaaaaaake its a

Some more snake sketches. Working out some design thoughts. Really just trying to work this idea out. Watching: Torchwood. Wishing I was watching: Caprica. Put it on Netflix!