There is Magic in Making Small Things That Come Alive Trough Human Contact. Interview with Carolyn Young by Klimt02

Published: 29.03.2021
Carolyn Young Carolyn Young
Edited by:
Edited at:
Edited on:
Carolyn Young. Necklace: Reflection Chamber, 2019. Copper, plexiglass, sterling silver, nylon.. 12.2 x 1.7 x 5.4 cm. From series: Dendritic Networks. Carolyn Young
Necklace: Reflection Chamber, 2019
Copper, plexiglass, sterling silver, nylon.
12.2 x 1.7 x 5.4 cm
From series: Dendritic Networks
© By the author. Read Copyright.

I'm particularly interested in the phenomenon of “super-organisms”, I try to translate this underlying concept of dynamic flow into my work and find the point at which all of the parts - whether few or many - come alive through their participation in something greater than themselves.
Tell us about your background. What were your first influences to be creative and become an artist and what has drawn you to contemporary jewellery?
My earliest memories are entwined with nature, art, and making. My mother is a biologist and very artistic, my father was a historian. Our home was full of books, critical thinking, and creativity. Life in miniature - including jewellery and its intimate meanings and associations - fascinated me. I studied art history and wrote a book on architectural history but missed the synergy of working with mind, hand, and heart and gradually started studying metalsmithing and jewellery-making and immersing myself in the history of design and the history of jewellery. 

Both through reading and through visiting exhibitions of work by Emmy van Leersum and Tone Vigeland, I became entranced by experimental jewellery and its engagement with contemporary ideas and alternative materials. There is magic in making small things that come alive through human contact.

How important is networking to you in your professional practice and what are your preferred tools for this?
Making new connections in the field is very important to me, especially after taking such a circuitous career path. My favorite way to do this is through in-person experiences like residencies and workshops. But I also love the fact that attending online meetings, conferences, lectures, and workshops is so easy and efficient and offers so many possibilities for both learning and networking, especially with current restrictions on travel. It’s important to find supportive networks while also trying to expand interest in the field.

What are your general thoughts on the contemporary jewellery world (education, market, development,…), where do you see chances and where are dead-ends?
I don’t think that the world of contemporary jewellery is monolithic - nor is its market - but it helps to give it a stronger profile if we come together to create a more robust and supportive culture. 
While the internet is still a blunt instrument for the appreciation of tactile objects, it can make contemporary jewellery more accessible to a much greater number of people, sometimes reaching a receptive audience. Showing contemporary jewellery alongside other art or embracing more sustainable practices in response to the Anthropocene can also make the work more attractive to new audiences.

How has your work changed over the past few years and what are you excited about these days?
I’ve started taking a multidisciplinary approach, creating sculptures and drawings as well as jewellery and allowing the process itself to become more interactive. As well as the physicality of the object, my work is now motivated by ideas of bio-animism: the interdependence of living things and the interactive, experiential nature of human perception. I'm particularly interested in the phenomenon of “super-organisms”, like murmurations of birds, or forests of trees and fungi working together in a complex interactive flow that scientists are only just beginning to understand. I try to translate this underlying concept of dynamic flow into my work and find the point at which all of the parts - whether few or many - come alive through their participation in something greater than themselves. Of course, the completed work also needs to reach beyond itself to become part of the ever-changing landscapes of the human experience. The wearer or viewer will interact with it through their own lenses and senses.
Now, I am excited to be focusing more than ever on my practice and creating a new body of work that reflects on current themes of human fragility and resilience. And I'm excited to be part of Klimt02!