Andrea Wagner,jewelry artist:|
‘If you’re not confused, you don’t know what’s going on’.
Talking with Andrea Wagner in her studio, recording her statements for her show in New Jersey.
Her new collection of jewelry narrates upon processes of migration. It tells about being bravely and happily perched between two camps.
Born in Germany and having grown up in Canada, the international city of Amsterdam has been Wagner’s base for the last 16 years. This vantage point allows her to observe, reflect and comment upon living in different cultures simultaneously. Through her intriguing works she expresses the inner landscape of cultural hybrids, their life in ‘in-between spaces’ and their multicultural baggage. Perseverance is needed to master the intricacies of a new language, and sensitivity helps to adapt to another cultural mindset, while at the same time a migrant cannot ignore his or her origins. Wagner says, ‘It's a wonderful breakthrough - the first time you dream in your new language.’ Her approach is pragmatically positive: taking the best of two worlds or even three, why not ? Hopping between cultures she mines the different layers in her observations on migration, reflects on how and where they overlap and merge. This creates what she calls ‘strong subsets’, which add up to more than merely the sum of their parts.
The title of her new collection is: Subset Synergism - Tales Of Migration.
Our contemporary state of life is a maelstrom that can suck you into the deep. Not intimidated by confusion she embraces it. Confusion to her means both: breaking up stagnant inner patterns and also the freedom to rearrange established forms. In this jewelry collection it comes as no surprise really, that the rectangular brownish forms, skillfully grafted together make us think of tiny cardboard moving boxes, albeit slightly and strangely distorted. Strong architectural forms are crisscrossed by glimmering lines, like secret paths across wide plains. They are like detailed maps informing about her trek from reflective thought to material reality. Wagner has enhanced the composition of her pieces by reducing color and materials to sienna colored porcelain and resin, silver, and touches of red paint.
The names of her pieces are often tongue in cheek, for example ‘Double Dutch’ referring to a native American rope skipping game and also to the proverbial ‘going Dutch’. ‘Perfect Fit Mismatch’ hints at extreme opposites that compliment each other at the same time. For the open mind the collection is a treasure trove of images in a variety of shapes and materials, ready to be worn and cherished - like comfort food from home: a peanut butter and jelly sandwich?
Wagner has gladly lost herself in translation, skillfully working with the richness she has found in the process.
Amsterdam, April 2011
photographs: brooch 'Double Dutch' - necklace 'mind the gap' - streetview New York, by A. Wagner
text on commission by the artist