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.