As a trained jewelry designer and maker, interdisciplinary artist Marit van Heumen plays with conventional ideas behind "the human body, objects, and the spaces surrounding us." And yet her jewelry is anything but conventional...
Q. How would you describe your art?
A: In my art practice, I focus on exploring the relationship among the human body, objects, and the spaces surrounding them. I am interested in the automatic interpretations we make with objects. We try to give them meaning by using the knowledge we have or have been taught. This also happens when seeing an unknown object. The importance of function fascinates me. Especially in jewelry and fashion design, there is an ongoing conversation about functionality. When a piece of jewelry loses its function, is it still jewelry? Does it become art or an object? And what does this do for the identity of the product and the manner in which we perceive it? Within my work, I take a step back from what we experience as conventional, and I question [these conventions]. I want to challenge the relationship among the human body, product, and space by making changes in our interaction with objects and spaces and by making changes in their placement and proportion.
Q: What inspired you to explore these ideas in your work?
A: Before studying at the jewelry department of the Art Academy in Maastricht (The Netherlands), I studied spatial design. Although the perspective of the human body in [spatial study] is different, the body plays a significant role in both [the jewelry and spatial] disciplines, as well as in other design disciplines. I have always been interested by how the human body connects to functional products, objects, and spaces intuitively. Because these objects and spaces are made for the human body, there is already a strong connection among them. Within my work, I like to use these automatic assumptions and automatic behaviors [and gear them] toward objects and spaces to create different stories.
"When I was working on my graduation project, The human body is a cliché, I was making so many sketches and three-dimensional tests, and combining them with interesting materials, but nothing seemed good enough. After struggling a lot, I had one very productive morning, and I came up with most of the ideas that ended up being the final objects in the collection. It was one of those moments when suddenly everything fell in place."
Q: When you're stuck creatively, how do you get your brain going again?
A: When this happens, it is mostly because I want to squeeze an idea out of me so badly. And, of course, that never works. For me, the best thing to do in these cases is to not get pressured by deadlines and by wanting to get the best end result. When I am stuck creatively and sometimes lost in a project, it is good to take a step back, ask for feedback, and re-evaluate. I experiment and have fun with materials, read articles, go out for a walk in the city, and watch the people on the streets.
Q: If you could collaborate with any artist (dead or alive), who would it be and why?
A: I would love to collaborate with architects like Belgian architect Vincent van Duysen. I think it would be very interesting to make jewelry for specific architectural spaces and a great challenge to make ‘architectural jewelry’ that complements Van Duysen’s clean and thoughtful designs.
Q: And finally, what's next for you?
A: I am currently working on a project in which wearable jewelry is linked to jewelry or objects in architectural spaces. In my opinion, jewelry doesn’t have to be limited to the human body. I think, in a subtle manner, jewelry can do the same for an architectural space as it does for the human body. In a few months, this collection will be exhibited and will also be up for sale. And wearable pieces with my design aesthetic can be purchased then.
We can't wait, Marit! Thanks for speaking with us! ◆
You can find more of Marit's work on her website. Follow her on Instagram @maritvanheumen.
We asked "paintoonist" Serena Corson about her artistic style, her role models, and why it's important to express feminist themes in her work.
Q: Let's first talk the basics. How would you describe your art?
A: I would describe myself as an experimental paintoonist (painter-cartoonist). My art--which ranges from big oil paintings, to photography, to comics--usually comments on society and relationships. I explore how humans interact and connect with one another. I usually try to put a funny or light twist to darker subjects.
Q: Your pieces feel somewhat like a feminist surrealist dream. Could you talk a little bit more about the themes and visual imagery you're working with?
A: I like to be as raw and honest with my art as I can, so I take painful personal experiences or certain moods/vibes and combine them with learned philosophy and my knowledge of current social issues to create my pieces. Being a woman who has experienced a lot of blatant misogyny, feminist themes are inevitable to show. I also try to include themes of spirituality and the sublime into my work. I know that’s a lot; I’m still finding my way and letting the Chaos guide me.
"For Woman Smoking in Moonlight, I actually tried doing realistic colors at first and realized halfway through that [the colors] were very far from that. So, I just went with it. Bright color schemes always find their way into my work."
Q: We read that the matriarchs in your family are your creative inspirations. What connects you to them?
A: My grandmother died when I was about three years old. She was a teacher, opera singer, harp player, published poet, and artist. I recently read postcards she had sent to me from Paris when I was two years-old, talking to me like I was an adult. I still read through her old art journals whenever I can. I feel so connected to her, and I know she’s living on through me in a way. My single mother is the strongest person I have ever met. Her career was in music, and I believe her passion for music translated to my passion for visual art.
Q: Any exciting projects on the horizon you can tell us about?
A: I am interning for a woman named Liz Canner, who is making a documentary about violence on campus and how that correlates to Greek life (fraternities and sororities). I go to Florida State University, where Greek life is a really big deal. I think I might want to take advantage of being in the center of such a massive and sometimes destructive social system. I might try to paint about it or even do some performance art. ◆
You can find more of Serena's work on her website. Follow her on Instagram @serenaviolaart.