By: Tess Buckley
This interview explored the importance of accessibility and use of sustainable materials, all while learning more about Alexa’s process and lifestyle. You can check out her work at: https://www.alexarhynd.com/about .
Q: What is your name, location & art form?
A: Alexa Rhynd, currently based in Maine and Montreal.
Art form: jewellery making, majoring in studio art with a focus in fibres and textiles.
Artist statement: “I gravitate towards costume jewelry as my primary material-of-choice because it carries the connotation of being 80s junk, trash destined for the landfill. At the flea market, costume jewelry is at the bottom of the chain - nobody bothers with it anymore… but somebody’s trash is my treasure. Although I am only repurposing jewelry into jewelry, I like to think that I am assembling pieces that would never have coexisted otherwise - and for that, they are given a chance at a second life. My only intention is to extend the lifespan of these pieces and create one-of-a-kind pieces that will be loved by you and adorn your body. Each necklace has a piece of my heart, and I hope that love and energy is palpable when it rests around your neck.”
Q: Why don’t you consider yourself a jeweler?
A: I would be tentative to consider myself an artist, I identify more with the label of being a ‘maker.’ I think that is rooted in working in textiles and the ideology of craft work. For me, my art is more of a way of life – my goal in life is to create and make things that make my life more beautiful and hopefully the lives of others, if they acquire my pieces. Simply put, I align with the word ‘maker’ and I believe that’s a result of me rejecting the hierarchy of ‘fine art.’
Q: Can you expand on the difference between craft work versus fine art?
A: This is definitely a conversation that comes up a lot, especially when I’m working with textiles. There is this distinct debate of art versus craft. I ask is craft not art and vise-versa? It is definitely a blurry line – I think craft is kind of inherently art in itself. The term art is so often associated with fine art, museums and galleries, but I think nowadays there is more space for craft work in those spaces, but it is hard to draw a line. I am not sure if I can talk about it too much because I really do want to reject the whole history of not deeming craft as art.
Q: Your jewellery is 'one of one' - making your launches unique and yet accessible, can you talk to the importance of accessibility and intimacy in your jewellery.
A: accessibility is huge and for me my pieces are very intimate, and I am more interested in finding them a home where they will be cherished. Under capitalism it is impossible for us to escape all the objects we are surrounded by, but we can be intentional with the objects we surround ourselves with. Having something handmade that is one of one I think helps to make people feel more connected to the object. Hopefully they can appreciate it more, which I think is the only way to really exist in capitalism – to have objects that do bring us joy. I do believe it is possible to surround oneself with objects that inspire joy.
Q: Yes, accessibility seems to be an important part of your practice, what else is essential in your work?
A: Sustainability – my process starts with my local Flea Markets where I will go every Sunday and scour for little trinkets. When you get to the Flea market you get the sense that there is a hierarchy of what is deemed as the precious or of monetary value and costume jewellery is the lowest tear. A lot of people view it as trash or junk, so I primarily buy costume jewellery and I am able to acquire it for a low cost. I think that by using costume jewellery which is often made of cheap materials I hope to alter people’s perceptions of an object's value and worth. I try to detach the worth from the material, because in a way we regard plastic as junk. We must begin to view materials that will not disintegrate, such as plastic, as precious because we must find ways to repurpose and reuse them so that they can hopefully avoid the landfill. I work to divert these materials from the landfill and give them a second life.
Q: Can you expand on your process – you’ve touched on the pre-production, but I would love to learn more on the production and post.
A: Going back to labelling myself as a jeweller – I believe my process is a lot like assemblage, I like to think of it as collaging with 3D materials and objects. So, once I have these random things I have collected from the Flea market I often hold on to them for months and then one day I have this ‘ah ha’ moment. I feel as though the objects speak to me, that they want to be together and I know when all the parts that are meant to be together are set. Sometimes I make the pieces multiple times and so I feel as though I am really just the hands putting them together. I am the vessel that these pieces call to put them together. The materials are very much what inspires me, the materials themselves and putting them together. When I work with jewellery it's very meditative, I really lay everything out on the floor and allow them to get pieces together. It is my flow state. Then I shift into shooting them in post-production which is a whole other thing. I do enjoy this slow process and I do a drop about every six months; I give myself this space and time to create as I make it all with care. It means a lot to me that people want to take my pieces home and so I make sure to include a note when I package each piece. I want people to really feel the love that has gone into it – a part of me is attached to every piece as a lot of energy is attached so it is nice to know I can give them a second life; this means a lot to me.
Q: You’re a very multidisciplinary artist – as a maker you're continuously creating – how do you flow from one practice to the next? How do they feed into each other?
A: I feel as though I am constantly going through phases when I am constantly into textiles, then painting, then jewellery. I really just dig into what feels right in that moment – I could probably dig into my psyche and figure out why I am drawn to specific mediums during different times in my life, but I do feel as though they are all connected. It really all comes down to wanting to make myself feel good, this is a means of making my life beautiful. I am always sourcing second-hand materials and it is always those materials that are speaking to me. A lot of the time I make what I want or need in my life at that moment and then I make more to share with others. I would never make something that I would not wear myself. As a creative person there is no boundary as everything in your life has the potential to be art. There are so many ways for this creativity to manifest and all my disciplines are all connected as everything is.
Q: Where can people find your pieces and keep up to date with what you are making?