A provocative exhibition by the Dutch artist Rian de Jong tackles the hot-button concern of guns. Earning ingenious use of products these types of as paraffin wax, plastic foam, and twigs, de Jong has created jewellery and objects in the form of guns that express her shock and outrage around the prevalence of gun violence in the United States. The exhibition, at Gallery Loupe, in Montclair, NJ, closes May 21, 2022.
Jennifer Altmann: You to start with explored the difficulty of guns for the exhibition 1 Environment, presented by Gallery Loupe, which questioned 40 intercontinental jewelers in the spring of 2020 to make a pendant in response to COVID. You manufactured a necklace called Hey Fellas, Shoot That Damn Issue, with a gun manufactured from cardboard on one facet and a piece of coral that represented COVID on the other. You also produced some gun-formed brooches. Right after that, why did you continue to be with the theme of guns?
Rian de Jong: I could not arrive loose from the topic—I was in the grip of those pistols for the Just one Environment exhibition. It was COVID, and we ended up dwelling in France at our household in the Pyrénées, which is in the type of Frank Lloyd Wright. And there was this astonishing news about a run on arms revenue in the US. And then a image from Lansing, MI, from a demonstration in opposition to the lockdown, of men and women carrying weapons on their chests. It was in every single newspaper in Europe. I could not believe that it, just walking the streets with these types of a army weapon. I was surprised that guns were being authorized in a crowd like this. And that it is seemingly typical in the US. In Europe, we just cannot have an understanding of it. Guns are hugely controlled. So that was the start out.
You put in 14 decades dwelling on a 50-foot boat with your partner, Herman, visiting dozens of international locations and engaging with cultures that are really distinctive from The Netherlands. Your standpoint as an outsider delivers a refreshing perspective to individuals of us who stay in the US and who could have just approved the epidemic of gun violence as some thing we simply cannot take care of.
Rian de Jong: Yes, the cultural discrepancies get me contemplating. For this project, I asked, what does defending yourself with a weapon imply? Are you protecting on your own, or inciting violence and hatred? Is it to establish you have power? Why is it so crucial to have a gun in your motor vehicle, beside your mattress?
The most remarkable piece in the exhibition is an item called Blackberry, a two-foot-extensive gun created from blackberry branches. How did you develop it?
Rian de Jong: We have several blackberry bushes escalating on our land in France. When I trim them, the thorns prick me. I get scratches. And I assumed: I have to make a gun from them. I dried the branches and sewed the twigs with each other using crochet stitches. I want anyone to think, “If I pick that gun up, I will get pricked.” I want you to visualize the suffering of having the weapon in your fingers, the thorns that sting your pores and skin. There are threads hanging from the entrance of the gun, and from the threads are drops of modeling clay painted red that drip down. The pink speaks for alone.
A number of of the gun-shaped objects are designed from paraffin wax. Why did you use wax?
Rian de Jong: Wax is about fragility. For the item Driving Bars, I used black wax, which is incredibly gentle, for the gun. The contours of the gun are copper and chilly enamel, which I built by electroforming. The gun is imprisoned. It’s caged. Wax would make the gun susceptible. Ordinarily, a gun is very potent, but this one particular would soften with heat, so it’s not a gun. It’s an illusion. If it melts, the contour of the gun will continue to be.
You have adorned some objects with Swarovski crystals. What prompted you to increase these vibrant, sparkly stones?
Rian de Jong: I was considering about historical weapons, individuals that sultans and kings have. I also wanted to carry some humor, to not make it all way too really serious. It is still a gun, it’s still unsafe, but you can also make exciting of it.
The objects are each jewelry and item for me. You use it. You hold it in your hand. You adhere it involving your waistline and your pores and skin. It might evoke humor, a smile, a question, a believed, and maybe also obligation. Through creativeness, you may well be able to make men and women recognize that they never want to have just about anything to do with the electric power and murderous qualities of weapons.
Did you fear that the exhibition would be much too controversial?
Rian de Jong: Indeed, of training course. But I had to do it, because it haunted me. This do the job is extreme, I recognize that, but art has to make a assertion. For Individuals, it may well be a little bit confronting. I hope that Us citizens are confronted by this. What I would like is for men and women to wear 1 of my pieces, or have just one at home, and have it commence a dialogue.
Convey to me about Blue, a pendant necklace with a smaller upside-down gun produced of wrapped copper wire which is painted blue.
Rian de Jong: Friends who arrived to the studio were hunting at this necklace, and at first they didn’t know what they were seeing, and then at a person second they observed that it was a gun. And I like that. You never see it at to start with look, but on a second glance.
The pendant hangs from a narrow brown rope.
Rian de Jong: The way a piece connects to the entire body, I like that to be as humble as probable, so I employed rope. It demonstrates that you can make putting issues with humble products.
Purple—a gun created from crimson wax sticks—sits in a gentle-blue cardboard box, and on top of the box you place a map with red dots marking all the websites of mass shootings in the United States. What do you hope it will get persons thinking about?
Rian de Jong: Individuals don’t comprehend how lots of shootings there have been. When you see it on the map, you comprehend the number is great. The gun is a little bit playful. It looks like licorice. You want to chunk it.
Ring Gun is a a few-inch paraffin gun lined in a vine-like sample of silver cold enamel. It is connected to a ring, which fits in excess of the finger, when the gun is tucked in the hand.
Rian de Jong: I like that you can keep it, you can sense it, you can display it. It is a little bit naughty.
Your existence of vacation has typically encouraged your operate. This assortment was built for the duration of the pandemic, when travel was restricted. How did being put in France have an affect on this operate?
Rian de Jong: We applied to be on land 50 percent the 12 months and on our boat the other 50 percent. That stopped with COVID. But you even now have the memory of touring, that is normally with you. Occasionally I really don’t truly feel the inspiration for work at the instant we are traveling, but it will come later on, normally a lot later. It just arrives.
What inspires you to preserve creating jewellery?
Rian de Jong: I enjoy that you use it on your overall body, that it displays who you are. It is part of your staying. It’s what you appreciate. It’s who you are.
To master additional about the parts in this present, look at out the exhibition web page, here.
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