In response to
My name is Sam Shaw, about whom this post is intended. While I agree
with some of what Mickey says here, my perspective and conclusions
are quite different. Pretty much anyone who has ever made anything
has felt the way Mickey does way to some degree.
Here are some criteria that I use when evaluating work, specifically
about if a person has “ownership” of a certain style, technique or
Perhaps most important is the consistency of voice. Is the work
consistently recognizable within a body of work? Is there a theme
that unifies the collection so it presents itself as a cohesive,
integrated, thoughtful and unified whole? Are the characteristics and
style clearly the work of that hand and mind?
Another criteria is commitment and depth of involvement. Is there a
range of examples within the aesthetic that demonstrates that the
artist is truly interested enough to keep coming back, and back, and
back again to see what else can be squeezed out of this idea. The
work is not just a passing experiment or dabble, but a term measured
in years or significant output to show that the artist has a passion,
involvement, and desire to pursue an idea further.
Another criteria would be originality. Is the idea, technique, or
imagery singular, unique, and never seen before? This is a tough one
for artists, as there is, as we can all agree, very little which is
truly new. It is remarkably exciting when an artist does develop a
completely original idea, of which there are many examples.
Mastery would be another criteria. Does the artist demonstrate a
skill in the media where the desired result is not obscured by lack
of facility? Is the intent clear and appear effortless and seamless.
Development of the idea, from spark, through incubation, early
exploration, inspired attempts, and fulfillment is another mark of
owning an idea. Is the journey personal, and have references and
resonance within ones life. Are an artists interests, aesthetics and
actions related such that the ideas contained seem natural, and the
conclusions reached are obvious and honest?
I think you and I can honestly claim most of the above criteria,
with the exception of originality of idea. In my view, artists,
designers and jewelers have incorporated twigs into jewelry and
precious objects for millennia, and abundantly within our craft
community as well. You are absolutely not the first to use cast or
fabricated twigs in jewelry. But in my perspective you do have
ownership, as do I, and the numerous others who share our aesthetic.
I invite anyone to view my collection on my site, shawjewelry dot
com. Today, one can purchase pre cast twigs on line ready for
production. Twigs in jewelry are prevalent and ancient.
I understand that you believe that I imitated you. I know in my
heart that my path was my own, and that I came to similar conclusions
as you. For instance I cast twigs and buds in college in 1975, and
made jewelry from them. Other work of mine is very much centered
around found objects from the natural world. I was aware of what you
were making, but my journey and development was my own.
I believe there is room enough for all of us. Put ten of your pieces
next to ten of mine and I suspect anyone would be able to determine
which are yours and which are mine. We each have a distinctive voice
within this shared aesthetic.
I was one of the early adapters of using beachstones back in the
eighties. Certainly not the first to use beachstones, but I made them
my own. My response when I saw others using beachstones after I had
established my collection was to hug them because I knew we found
beauty in the same things. I bought their work and continue to buy
and sell beachstone jewelry made by others. I also buy and sell
jewelry with twig motifs. There is a lot available.
I take Mickeys concerns very seriously. When she sent me her pieces,
I was deep into beachstones, and it was numerous years later that I
adopted twigs. I do not have a recollection of what she sent me in
the late 1990’s. I did have a twig cross over cuff with pointed ends
that was in my gallery for years that I believed I had purchased from
Mickey. But she says I did not buy any of her jewelry, so perhaps it
I have been giving this a lot of thought since receiving this post.
Trying to recreate the past. I believe it is fair to say that
Mickey’s work was in my sub-conscious. Upon reflection and self
examination, I can honestly and sincerely say that I came to my own
conclusions. I did not look at Mickeys work. I never, no not once,
did I ever look at her website or knowingly see any of her work. I
hope you can believe me Mickey. And I hope we can both continue to
make work that is meaningful and truthful.