Teresa Faris (USA) is a jewelry designer and associate professor at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. Among her many achievements is the Women in Leadership Award, awarded to influential women in different areas of economic and social development. Her works have travelled around the US and Europe and her artistic jewelry pieces can only be found in prestigious galleries.
At So Catchy! Where Fashion Begins, we stumbled upon her work not long ago and we’ve been following it closely ever since. What initially caught our attention were the artistic jewelry pieces made with the help of her cockatoo, Charmin, not only because of their originality, but the concepts behind the apparently simple collaboration.
SO CATCHY!: Why did you decide to focus your life on Jewelry?
TERESA FARIS: I made a few jewelry pieces during my time at the University (both graduate and under-graduate) but it was not until several years after graduating and finishing a three-year apprenticeship with a goldsmith that I changed my studio practice to focus primarily on the making of body adornment. I am interested in jewelry as a silent communicator and mobile artwork.
SC!: What do you want to tell people with your work?
TF: I hope that people will understand the questions that I am raising about human dominion, hierarchy, religion, life, death, illness… and question the choices that they make when acting on privilege or “auto-pilot” (so to speak).
SC!: How did your collaboration with Charmin, is it your cockatoo?, get started? Could you explain the process?
TF: Working in collaboration with non-humans rather than using or representing their bodies is most interesting to me. If we leave behind preconceived ideas, misinformation, anthropomorphization, fantasy and superstition, then the only thing left to do is observe. Through observation privileges and disadvantages become clearer. While observing both captive and free non-humans, I have witnessed them performing repetitive movements/activities and I wonder if they find the same soothing aftereffects that I am rewarded with when working at the bench.
Charmin is a rescued captive bird. I have lived with her for 22 years. Because of illness, I was forced to keep a distance from her for a period of time. During that time, she was kept in a cage and I was confined to a bed. I watched her obsessively chew wood, and arrange her space in very specific ways. It was during this time that I made the connection that when removed from what is natural or intended, we ALL find ways to sooth the distress. For her, it is chewing wood, for me, it is cutting metal.
SC!: Your inspiration comes from…
TF: My direct experiences.
SC!: The perfect piece of jewelry is / must have….
TF: Congruous material and content
SC!: 3D printing, new materials, or something else, in your opinion, what’s the future of jewelry?
TF: There will always be people who are driven to explore tools and others who are driven to explore new ideas (some driven to explore both). I think that jewelry will continue to have trends and in the midst of those trends there will be groundbreakers who make real change. The ever-alluring materials- metal and gemstones- will always remain as either as a reference or an element of the objects being made. Jewelry can move forward conceptually and technically if the makers are conscious of adding something new to the dialogue.
SC!: A piece of jewelry you always wear, if any…
TF: I always wear half of Charmin’s (cockatoo) old bracelet on a gold chain.
SC!: What material do you normally work with and why?
TF: I use discarded materials. Things that have been abandon and viewed as worthless. Positioning them next to silver and/or gemstones offers the viewer a moment of contemplation and introspection.
SC!: Do you plan to sell online?
TF: I would like to, but every time I have tried I feel as if I spend way too much precious time uploading photos and managing paperwork. It has never been worth it to me. I would rather be in my studio.
SC!: Your next challenge is…
TF: I don’t know. I am not there yet.
SC!: Can you name some designers you like?
SC!: Are there any up-and-coming or young jewelry designers you think we should know about?
TF: Caitlin Skelcey.
Segments by Caitlin Skelcey
SC!: If you hadn’t become a jewelry designer and artist you would have been a….
TF: A surgeon. For sure.
SC!: Blogs, webs or Instagram accounts you normally follow….
TF: I look at fashion blogs, vegan food recipes, jewelers from all over the world (that is the best part).
SC!: Can you tell us where we can find your pieces?
Photos from Collaboration with collection courtesy of Teresa Faris
Translation and Layout by Michael Padilla