With Jewelry: We Can Turn Down The Volume

Published: 03.12.2021
matt lambert
Edited by:
Edited at:
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Sayumi Yokouchi. Drawing series Neckpiece, 2019..
Sayumi Yokouchi. Drawing series Neckpiece, 2019.

© By the author. Read Copyright.

Jewelry is a menace to thinking in neat and tidy ways. I was invited to write a mini-series about some of the possibilities and potentials of how jewelry can function with, and illustrate, larger, often poetic ways of thinking. The pieces are in conversation with each other. After all, I think of them as tools, rather than end products. An invitation for us to dance in possibility – in a realm beyond the binary right and wrong.

This is the fourth article of Klimt02's With Jewelry series. Not manifestos but prompts and dialogue springboards whose intention is to enrich, engage or entangle with larger ideas, rather than to resolve.
To look in a poem for immediate political function is as mistaken as to try to declare immediately what a particular protest demonstration or a picket line has “accomplished.” […] I want a kind of poetry that doesn’t bother either to praise or curse at parties or leaders, even systems, but that reveals how we are — inwardly as well as outwardly — under conditions of great imbalance and abuse of material power. How are our private negotiations and sensibilities swayed and bruised, how do we make love — in the most intimate and in the largest sense — how (in every sense) do we feel? How do we try to make sense?
/ Adrienne Cecile Rich (1)

Without quiet, how can anyone be loud? In a world of shouting loud voices there are opportunities to create a pause. Here, and now are where the quiet, the poetic and the introverted have great strength. Quiet, poetic work allows for stillness, a point of pause to meditate and reflect. It asks us to lean in close, focus, and hear the whispers in a loud room. It is the kind of work which unpacks its bags, tending to one article at a time, each piece removed, folded and put to its place in drawers and closets. This is not a call for a correct volume to be put into work, but an ask for consideration. The consideration of diverse practices and there necessity. All work cannot unpack itself with a quick upside down turning of the bag, watching everything fall to the floor. If we continuously repeat that action what we are left with is like a landfill pile. To only be loud is to eventually drone into silence. It is being at the concert next to the speaker only to hear the world muffled once you turn your head and walk across the room.

Lori Talcott. Materia Remedium, 2021. Silver, Vintage ribbon, nettings, bees wax, charcoal, mirror, glass, lead, black tourmaline.
Image Credit: Artist.

Poetry is a form that houses the stories of the oppressed, the colonized and the hopeful. As Audre Lorde stated in her iconic essay Poetry Is Not A Luxury. Poetry is not a luxury. It is a vital necessity of our existence. It forms the quality of the light within which we predicate our hopes and dreams toward survival and change, first made into language, then into idea, then into more tangible action. Poetry is the way we help give name to the nameless so it can be thought. The farthest horizons of our hopes and fears are cobbled by our poems, carved from the rock experiences of our daily lives. (2)
I admit to my eagerness to dismiss the quiet, the small and the introverted. It is work that requires from us a form of looking and thinking differentiated from loud work. It asks us to sit with it, hold it and wait for its unfolding. The rushed demand I have for the loud, for the big and the demanding I have come to realize is rooted in a fast pace, capitalistic, colonial demand for everything to be transparent. As Susan Cain states in the book Quiet.

Introversion -along with its cousins sensitivity, seriousness, and shyness- is now a second-class personality trait, somewhere between a disappointment and a pathology. Introverts living in the Extrovert Ideal are like women in a man's world, discounted because of a trait that goes to the core of who they are. Extroversion is an enormously appealing personality style, but we've turned it into an oppressive standard to which most of us feel we must conform. (3)
Paula Isola. Footprints, marks, and scars. 2019 Brooches.
Glued Woods, engraved on exact log paper intervened, clock parts, family photographs, typewriter keypad, numerical template for screen printing, silver, and stainless steel.
Image Credit: Damián Wasser.

The moon in the water/ at the side of the road /crossroads I /crossroads II/ the time that flies the ancestors.

This is not to say I have any issue with the loud, bold and confrontational. It is just a public acknowledgement that there exists a need for all levels of volume. The contrast between styles could be celebrated as it allows for uniqueness to be enhanced. Like an orchestral score it is the highs and the lows, the pauses and crescendos as they work together that create a rich and robust experience.  It allows for the introvert and the extrovert to be in the same room.
By proposing this thinking I do not aim to dismiss loud work as not-poetic. Poetics in relation to loud work is deserving of its own attention and a possible essay of its own. James Baldwin in his essay The Creative Process refers to all artists as poets. It is the artists ability to reflect life on different levels that allows for “the poets (by which I mean all artists) are finally the only people who know the truth about us.(4)

Valerie James. North Avenue, 2019, Brooch. Hydrocal, stainless steel.
Image Credit: Artist.

Quiet poetic work may offer a challenge. It asks things to be slowed down. And in a world that is incredibly fast paced it offers an invaluable reminder that we can wear and carry with us through our days. It is a pause as we run from place to place, from meeting to meeting – it validates the value in any length of time to simply stop, breathe and be present in where we are standing.
Lena Echelle. Ofelia's Crown, 2019, Crown/Necklace. Rawhide
Photo credit: Artist.

(1) Adrienne Cecile Rich, What Is Found There: Notebooks on Poetry and Politics (New York: W.W. Norton, 2003).
(2) Audre Lorde, “Poetry Is Not a Luxury,” in Sister Outsider (London: Penguin Books, 2019).
(3) Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking (New York: Random House, 2013).
(4) James Baldwin, “The Creative Process,” in The Price of the Ticket: Collected Nonfiction: 1948-1985 (Boston: Beacon Press, 2021).

> Special thanks to Aaron Decker for editing this writing.

About the author

matt lambert
is a non-binary, trans, multidisciplinary collaborator and co-conspirator currently living in Stockholm Sweden as a Ph.D. student between Konstfack and HDK Valand. They hold a MA in Critical Craft Studies from Warren Wilson College and an MFA in Metalsmithing from Cranbrook Academy of Art.