Q&A with Laurie Hall, Politically Speaking jewelry artist

Laurie Hall is one of the artists included in the Politically Speaking exhibition at the Craft in America Center. Below she speaks about her work. Politically Speaking: New American Ideals in Contemporary Jewelry is on view until November 5, 2016.

Q: What was the impetus for Political Theater when you made the piece?

LH: This narrative necklace was composed and constructed in January 2016. I was responding to an exhibition at Facere Jewelry in Seattle, Bewitched Bothered, and Bewildered. The presidential election candidates and parties became my subject matter because I was bewitched, bothered, and bewildered by the cultural climate of political conflict and unrest in our nation and world.

Q: How has the political playing field shifted since you made the piece? Is the message relevant or do you see the piece as documenting a moment in history?

LH: I don’t see myself as a political forecaster. I prefer to fall between issues… to keep the conversation open to everyone. I did not choose sides in this piece on purpose…endeavoring to make a classic… composing with an eye toward the viewer and encouraging thinking about wearing, and announcing a position or posing a question encouraging a conversation with others. This piece and it’s content were made to last.

Q: The piece is obviously meticulously crafted. What is your process like? Do you sketch first? Do you start with and idea or concept and then translate that into imagery or how do you work?

LH: Working…sometimes slow and other times very fast….I think more than I draw…sketching only when I am talking about my idea with others. I find working with material is a better way to see and know what is going to work. I work it out in front of me. “Political Theater” was formed with an idea and became a concept…about the two party system…in this day of social media…and such huge divides…the stage, the picked actors, who are held by armatures, manipulated by the forces that be. Precarious at best! Who knows if the two parties will endure?

Q: You are a master at creating visual puns and bringing humor into your work. Who inspires you?

LH: Literature, ideas and thoughts, language, poetry, puns surrounded me as a child. My mother, a Whitman college graduate with an English major and my father talented with music, poetry, and a vocalist without much of a formal education…paid attention to their three kids talents and interests. I was also encouraged by my engineer, spare-time prolific furniture making grandfather who let me help in his workshopat age 3-4-5. I gained support early for my creativity…building a variety of forts, winning a poster contest in the 5th grade for “Paint-up, Fix-up” week overturning the eighth graders, making greeting cards and thinking about working for Hallmark cards, and later taking calligraphy. Also cared about winning spelling contests…and I did!

My work is without a doubt inspired by my Liberal Arts education. I always made art and my college experience with art instructors in studio art and art history gave me enough inspiration that would last concerning the possiblity of making compositions and building statements that would hopefully have real bearing. Further more, I cannot dismiss my years of teaching high school art and the parade of styles and interests that were set forth in front of me. You had to respond to fad and fantasy…keep the interest of teenagers and sponsor their individual creativity.

Q: Are politics a frequent subject in your work?

LH: My subject matter varies….social commentary or whatever moves me. Sometimes prompted by what is going on in politics, sports, a found object, memory, reaction…or what falls together on my long table where my pieces are conceived, composed, constructed, and ultimately assembled.

Laurie Hall’s She’s Got a Ticket to Ride is currently on view at the Bellevue Art Museum through February 5, 2017 as part of the BAM Biennial 2016: Metalmorphosis.