Ann Lalik

Allentown, PA

I make wearable art.  We hear that word used a lot these days when referring to clothing, jewelry, and other accessories.  I used to feel the need to defend my work so that people wouldn’t write it off as just superficial adornment. Not that there’s anything wrong with superficial adornment, but I thought it was important that people knew there was a concept behind the work in order to appreciate it.  Age and time have changed that concern and I don’t really care anymore what people think.  But nonetheless, I only conceptualize and create in terms of wearability, and it was my soul searching way back in the 1980’s, that informed my work to this day….at it’s very basic level.

I studied jewelry making and metalsmithing in college back in the 1980’s and both my degrees (BFA and MFA) are specifically in metal working.  John and I married in the summer of 1985 and right away I started pursuing my MFA.  The program at Tyler School of Art under the direction of Stanley Lechtzin, was and still is one of the most rigorous metals and jewelry programs in the country.  He was demanding and challenging and I worked very, very hard to do good work, teach…still wanting to be a good wife.  (What I mean by “good” wife, is have dinner with my husband once in a while and pay attention to our relationship) But I was in the studio all the time, getting home, well after John went to bed, and hardly seeing him. When we were together I was constantly stressing over my work load.

I explain all this because, at one point I started to doubt the value of my work and why I was stressing so much over “making jewelry” and the tone in my mind included rolling my eyes, when I thought “jewelry.”  As if what I was doing was not important and not going to have an impact on anyone, so why bother.  That thought process led me through a journey that I hold on to, to this day.  All jewelry, whether it’s made with deep meaning, or great craftsmanship or precious or non-precious materials says something about the wearer.  Jewelry is not a necessity, as clothing, shoes, sometimes hats, belts, etc.  Jewelry by its very nature of not being a necessity shows us that a person is making a statement about various stations in life, culture, religion, or other identification.  Those identities make a person stand apart or belong.  The body of work I made back then in 1987 was called Desirable Burdens and they were my expression on what it meant to be a woman in a modern culture where women could choose to do so much more than the generations before us. Yet as I discovered, these desires could also be burdens when you try to do it all.  Jewelry became my metaphor for ‘burdens” and it stands a true today as it was 30 years ago.  So my artist statement has become my mantra and it will usually go something like this:

My work is motivated by my role as a woman in today’s society.  Jewelry as a metaphor exemplifies “those things” we carry around with us and the utilization of modern, traditional, and primitive techniques and materials represents jewelry through the ages.  Freedom, which comes from the recognition of our intuition, strength, compassion, history, fertility and our Creator, intrigues me.  Women have made great strides. We dare not step down from the pedestal we have earned. This is the challenge.