It’s not the job of artists to sanitize themselves for the sake of public consumption or branding; but it is our responsibility to think about our legacy and how what we produce as artists affects the world as a whole.
This may be the last time,
This may be the last time,
This may be the last time. It may be the last time, I don’t know…
Ohhhhh, I remember when I was a little girl in church in the middle pew. Smack dab in the middle. Hair in pig tails. “All rise.” Fellowship time. Sister Washington bangin’ away on that old piano. Time to sing: This May Be The Last Time. My favorite. Our voices come together as one. Mostly off key but still one. The Lord hears our cry. Better when we raise our voices together. The Lord hears my prayers. Oh I know what people say about me. The Lord hears me and I hear him right back. I got the gift. Just like my mama and her mama before her. “Those Francois women…witches all of em…” Kids would tell the teacher I was giving them the evil eye in school. That’s all it took for the teacher to give me the strap. But the nasty stuff folks say don’t change nothin’: the dead talk and they talk to me. There’s nothin’ wrong with bein’ dead jus’ like there’s nothin’ wrong with bein’ alive. Both sides want to be heard. I’m just one of the ones that can hear ev’rybody. Even if what they sayin’ ain’t worth half a penny.
If you want something you’ve got to get it yourself. Just take it. You can’t sit around waiting on someone to give it to you. I keep telling Jenny: “Stop waiting on Bob. He’s a selfish asshole. A loser.” I keep telling her he’s not worth her time, but she won’t listen. Not my problem. I’ve got my own problems to deal with. Plus I’m busy. Work. Gym. More work. Repeat. Work. Gym. More work. Repeat. Then I’m always having to clean up someone else’s mess. I learned how to take care of myself early. That’s the problem with most people they don’t take responsibility. They make stupid mistakes and want other people to clean it up. You’ve got to take control of the situation or you’ll drown. I tell Jenny all of the time: “Bob will drag you down. He’s dead weight.” But she won’t let go. She just won’t let go.
“I like long walks on the beach, horseback riding, and deep conversation…” No. Scratch that. “Stimulating conversation.” Crap. I hate writing these stupid things. You can’t sound too smart you’ll scare someone off. You can sound like an idiot and you might get a date. Then they are disappointed when they find out you are smart. If you are physically attractive and smart, well…then their head might just explode. Ok. Let’s try this: “Multi-faceted individual. Looking for someone to grow with…” That sounds like a resume. Ok. “Must love nature. Must love hiking or at least walking. I love seeing the emerald green of my surroundings and feeling a cool breeze on my skin after working up a good sweat…” Hmmm. No. Too cheesy. Well…wait. I don’t want to sound all ‘hippy dippy’ but that’s kind of who I am. Right? I’ll leave it. Oh, who am I kidding? “I love horseback riding and long walks on the beach. Looking for someone to be my ‘plus one’…”
Right now ‘recycled art’ is a trend that can’t be denied. There are many artists making the move toward incorporating recycled components into their artwork…for now anyway. More than likely a large number of them do it because all of the other cool kids are doing it. But what separates those artists who say they recycle because it tugs at a potential customer’s heartstrings from those who recycle because they care? I talked a little to artist Jo DeSerio Jones about what separates her from the pack and how she's saving the planet one piece of art at a time.
Atelier: What type of work do you do? What's your favorite media?
JO: I'm a mixed media artist making mostly jewelry. I find inspiration in many forms. At this time I am particularly fond of metal, fossils, concrete and leather.
Atelier: How do you incorporate fossils? Do you use a special process to prep them?
JO: I'm currently making molds from fossils, then casting in concrete or resin and adding many patinas until I get the look I love. So I'm creating new fossils that look old! I later incorporate them into my jewelry as layered components.
Atelier: What inspires your work for Jomama? I've noticed a number of influences; steampunk, nature... What influences you the most?
JO: My biggest inspiration is from nature in the form of materials such as wood, pods, shell, and fossils, [also] patina from weathering and rust; as well as shapes that only nature could create.
Atelier: I love that you incorporate nature into your work. Is there a deeper meaning when adding it into your pieces? Spiritual or otherwise?
JO: I've always said I feel a connection with the earth. It may come from childhood where I spent a lot of time outdoors where I lived in Northern New Jersey. I look at items that nature offers as a gift, not a byproduct.
Atelier: Right now there seem to be lots of artists incorporating eco-friendly components into their work, what separates you from the crowd and makes your work different?
JO: Being an environmentalist is a way of life for me first. I'd have to say that my work is a byproduct of my lifestyle. I'm not just creating eco products, I'm living it. Not only do I recycle items and work with found objects, but I also search for products that have the least environmental impact as well as buying things that are local or made in the USA. All being important aspects of sustainability.
Atelier: That's awesome that you take all of those things into consideration when creating your work. Do you feel like it might be only the job of a few of us (artists) to incorporate eco-sensitivity into our work while others focus on other things? Or can we all do our part?
I think we can all incorporate eco-consciousness into our work, but your eyes have to be open to the opportunities around you, no matter what form they come in.
Atelier: So you do commissioned pieces as well. Talk a little about what goes into completing pieces for clients.
JO: Typically when someone commissions me it's because they like the uniqueness of my style. So going into a project I know that I can be me. However, I ask questions pertaining to their likes and style, such as colors, a feeling they want it to reflect, or incorporating personal items or family heirlooms into the piece so it is a part of them as well.
Atelier: Which do you prefer doing, work for others or your own personal projects and why?
I'm an artist, so I definitely prefer working on personal pieces that don't have limits. There's satisfaction in that freedom and it shows in your work, making it more desirable.
Atelier: What do you feel is our responsibility as artists in educating the public about recycling? Do we have a responsibility specifically as artists? I know this is kind of a repeat of my earlier question, but can you talk a little bit more about your perspective?
JO: I feel we have a responsibility as humans. I have come to realize through the years that there can be a lot of unnecessary waste in the art world that every artist should try to be aware of. I think if you are an environmental artist that you should most definitely educate people about the ways of your work and items used. That is how we educate, inspire and open people's eyes to new ways of thinking. People are amazed by some of the things I reuse. I see the intrigue in my work all the time when I do shows and it's very rewarding. I love when I inspire others and get them to think outside of the box!
Atelier: Any projects you working on at the moment?
JO: I am currently working on more steampunk ballerina sculptures for and art exhibit I will be participating in this fall called "The Lucky Ones".
Atelier: Tell me a smidgen more about the show. What's it about?
JO: The exhibit will be curated by an artist who is very involved in the community. Last year's event was covered by PBS and the local cultural division [where I live]. The common thread amongst selected artist seems to be color and texture, including photography and paintings.
If you want to find out more about Jo and her work check out her site www.shopjomama.com
Storyteller is the newest collection from Urban Temple Jewelry (The Urban Atelier). This collection explores the stories we tell others and the stories we tell ourselves through how we adorn ourselves. Storyteller poses the question: What do you want to say to the rest of the world?
My time in the Peace Corps has greatly influenced my artwork. Several of these pictures have become prints, book covers, and collages. See some of the images that were the catalyst for other pieces of artwork.
What do you do when those you spend the most time with might be affecting your work negatively?