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Forgetting - Holding Place


Materials: hand engraved brass, cherry wood
Dimensions: 4" x 6" x 2"

A reliquary container for the past

Photo credit: Marty Doyle

Cuong Abel Sy
Cranston, RI. USA

Creating art allows me to process my most deep-seated fears, experienced failures, and haunting memories. The journey to create external objects from internalized events allows me to come to terms with the ghosts of my past. Love and hate, rejection and acceptance, death and transformation are often themes to the pieces that I create. I work intuitively–allowing my emotions to dictate where the piece starts and what it ultimately becomes. Time for reflection is an important part of my creative process; it allows me to develop pieces that mirror my internal process of resolution.

I imagine the entire outline of the piece and how I want it to sit on the body. This allows me to imagine the details and connection points. From there, I sketch the outline onto paper and develop the foundation. Once the base is constructed I use finer elements to build my piece. During the entire process I meditate on a singular theme, allowing it to change and grow, and allowing that thought to dictate how elements are arranged and how the piece develops.

This therapeutic process of creating is essential to my coming to terms with myself—it gives me the time and space to grapple with the things that both define and stunt me. The organic and methodic discipline involved in the creation of my pieces allows me to confront and purge the negative parts of myself, all the while holding on to the things that I have learned and will use to continue growing from.

These containers and vessels definitely hold their place in the world of stunning art objects as well as in the world of metalsmithing.

Since the dawn of time humans have created containers to hold things that were important to them, from large vessels to hold food and harvests to intimate containers for small precious things. They might hold memories, ashes, medicine, beverage, fruit or food - but all spring from the imagination and skill of the maker. Some have specific religious functions, some are meant for everyday use. When one thinks of a vessel or container the inclination is to think of something with solid walls - yet many of these works involve the exploration of positive and negative space, and the use of negative space to help create the illusion of the wall of the vessel.

As the world’s largest jewelry related internet site, Ganoksin strives to develop exhibitions showcasing work from around the world. This exhibition was open to all metalsmiths, professional and amateur, advanced and beginner. Participants are from The Netherlands, the USA, Canada, Australia, Costa Rica, the United Kingdom, Israel, Hong Kong, Colombia, Romania, Italy, Ireland, Japan, Malaysia and Denmark. While most of the pieces are by an individual metalsmith, some are collaborations, one of three artists spanning 50 years.

In total 319 artists contributed 729 show pieces for the permanent online exhibition.

Objects in the exhibition include boxes, lockets, urns, ash containers, bowls, wine cups, reliquaries, match holders, vases, teapots, pitchers, sugar bowls, baskets, nests, pillboxes, clutches and a range of sculptural forms. A variety of techniques are showcased covering a wide range of metalsmithing techniques. Materials used include everything from gold and silver to less expensive metals. Ornamentation includes the addition of enamel, chasing and repousse’, gemstones and found objects.

The exhibition was curated by Beth Wicker, President of the North Carolina Society of Goldsmiths in the United States, and Adjunct Instructor at Northeastern Technical College in South Carolina. Director of the exhibition is Hanuman Aspler, founder of The Ganoksin Project, the world’s largest internet jewelry site.