Erin Rose Gardner: The Opulent Project

Jewelry as Subject

Website: www.erinrosegardner.com

I approach jewelry as both the format and subject of my work which straddles craft and design.  Undulating between these two fields, my research centers around mass-produced jewelry, because it has the capacity to serve as a cultural symbol for sentiment as-well-as commodity. As a designer/maker I am suspicious of industrially produced objects that embody emotional significance. The potency of craft objects stems from their connection to the maker and their enduring value. I find the area where industry intersects with emotion and my own values related to craft very intriguing. With these ideas in mind, I am developing a craft based body of work in which I appropriate found mass-produced commercial jewelry. Inversely, I am also producing a design based line of work in which I examine jewelry as an industrially produced luxury object related to commodity.  

In 2007, I received a Windgate Fellowship in which I proposed to research mass-production and manufacturing processes by visiting factories in China and Birmingham, England.  I will discuss several modes of production relevant to my work and ways in which I intervene through my craft and design practice.  I will also present work by The Opulent Project(.com), a design collective whose contributers value a conceptual approach to design and seek to create a dialogue between the precious and non-precious; subverting mainstream preconceptions regarding value in material culture.