Tzu Ju Chen
My work is inspired by my experiences, intermingling metalsmithing techniques and design with various artistic traditions from around the world. Inspired by the cultures I’ve encountered during my travels, I work with intrinsic materials, combining the traditional with the unexpected to elevate their status and reassign their function as jewelry.
My works explores the conceptual play of material and meaning. Travel photography and vintage snapshots serve as mementos that embody the present reality. In one group of pieces, photographs of architectural antiquity are transformed into body adornment. In another group, paper money used as an Asian ceremonial offering of currency for the dead, transcends its original function and serves as an evocation of metal and the sentiments of mourning. Through the juxtaposition of materials that may be perceived as incompatible, I combine the transparency of hot glue with the luster of silver to create a piece of subtle shifting color and texture. This intermingling of a lowly material and a precious metal elevates the perception of the hot glue through its encounter with the silver.
Pushing the boundaries of traditional techniques, I have experimented with materials such as inlaying Kingfisher bird feathers in unconventional ways as well as using unorthodox binding methods like melting monofilament. I have developed pieces through creative processes that connect mind and hand, and abstract ideas and tangible forms, in the medium of jewelry.
I also reference familiar symbols like the phoenix which are rearranged to create new silhouettes and meanings. Graphic elements, for instance, are layered to create textures, while old photographs may portray events but as well as a sense of action. Through these methods, I create new context.
My pieces are complete objects on their own but are enhanced when they are worn—they integrate with the wearer by reflecting and shadowing a person’s body and movements. This is a pivotal moment and expresses a creative continuum from the inception of a work to its material explorations to the dynamic experience of the jewelry on the human form.
Tzu Ju Chen