Tuesday, September 2, 2008
Artist Feature - Malodora
Malodora is D Dee Wilder. I first took notice of her work when I saw a photo of an experimental bracelet she had made, on flickr. Her work is organic; alive - and it comes as no surprise to learn that she worked for many years as a research entomologist and a nature photographer, it's very obvious that this in-depth knowledge informs not just her work but her whole aesthetic. You get the feeling it's likely that if you took once of her incredible bracelets apart you'd find a biologically correct nudibranch.
Dee works with polymer clay, and she pushes all the boundaries that I've come across with it. She is constantly exploring the limitations and possibilities, and I suspect that this enquiring approach to the materials comes at least partly from her training in a rigorously accurate discipline:
...in polymer clay I was self-taught--until my work reached a certain level--then I started taking classes from artists I admired. I try to take at least 2 intensives a year, and I’m branching out into some techniques to complement polymer. Some artists have so much to teach by example that I take their classes over and over.
I love the perfect marriage of creativity and scientific discipline there. And it produces fabulous results:
It's hard to believe that's actually polymer clay (or at least for this non-polymer artist it is) - it has been produces in several stages, gilded, sanded, buffed, tumbled, and I haven't seen other work like it; although it's very slightly steampunk round the edges. Mary Gentle's characters would definitely wear it.
There's something slightly feverish about it this one, as if it might reach out, very slowly, and grab you. Venus flytraps from Mars. (Dee's earrings, available in her Etsy shop have this same aesthetic.)
The latest technique - hollow beads with multiple piercings, showing layers of colour.
And what can I say? Art, or jewellery, or both.
All different, all unique - and all instantly recognisable as Dee's work. It's this unique, distinctive voice - the use of colour and texture as well as the hothoused natural references that intrigues me. I asked Dee about it:
Q: I know you love the sea! (or I assume so, from the incomparable nudibranchs) - you work to me seems very organic, very natural; despite the very modern materials... what inspires you? To me it reminds me more of very detailed paintings rather than anything else that anyone is doing with polymer clay. The texture, the way you use colour, the objects that you make seem to me to be utterly unique - how did you come up with this?
That's a hard one to answer. I have a rich and varied history. I’ve been a naturalist my whole life, and my head is filled with images and ideas. I’ve been a photographer, so I’m always looking at composition and color. I guess I’d have to say I draw on all my inner voices--and--most important, I’m not market driven, and I make only what I love.
I’m inspired by the natural world. Ideas come to me on my morning walks and also from looking through my slide library, or leafing through some of my favorite books. Experimenting with clay inspires and excites me as well. I love taking an idea or a process and seeing how far I can push it. If anything, I’m over-inspired. I’m often working on several new projects at once and simultaneously planning others.
I am fascinated to see what Dee will come up with next. Her micromosaics:
(yes, that really is a pencil!)
and her polished (not varnished, I hasten to add - hand-sanded & buffed) beads:
are as exciting as the rest of her work. I will leave the last words to Dee:
I feel for the first time that I have reached a level of competence where I can control my materials. I’m not just trying to duplicate techniques and processes. I’ve never [before] stayed with a medium long enough for that to happen. I am able to visualize a finished piece and execute my vision. That might not mean much to most crafters and artists, but to me it is a giant breakthrough. The other thing that excites me is that since my husband retired he has taken over all household duties. This leaves me long interrupted hours in my studio--it makes an enormous difference to me since I am easily distracted every time I leave the studio. Of course, there are still not enough hours in the day to create the way I’d like to.
But the last picture? that's MINE! This I bought from Malodora on Etsy, and I am incredibly excited about it:
As well as Malodora on Etsy, if you have the time, look at Malodora on flickr - there is a host of wonderful pictures of Dee's work there, too. And it's a joy to look at it all!