5 Questions with Kerianne Quick

The fifth installment of NMWA’s Women to Watch exhibition series, Heavy Metal, is presented by the museum and participating national and international outreach committees. The exhibition showcases contemporary artists working in metal, including those who create sculpture, jewelry, and conceptual forms. Heavy Metal engages with the fluidity between “fine” art, design, and craft, whose traditional definitions are rooted in gender discrimination.

Heavy Metal—Women to Watch 2018
Artist: Kerianne Quick
Nominating committee: Southern California Committee / Consulting curator: Bobbye Tigerman, Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Kerianne Quick; Photo: Angie Ollman

1. What do you like best about working with metal?

Metal is an amazing shapeshifter that can be endlessly re-formed, from solid to liquid and back to solid. I love the idea that the metal I work with has an unseen history. It was once part of the regalia of ancient royalty, or a simple circle worn for decades around your grandmother’s finger. Because we carry it, use it to mark occasions, and re-form it to suit the needs of its user, metal continually bares witness to individual lives and the history of humanity.

2. How do your works on view in Heavy Metal fit into your larger body of work?

I am currently exploring contemporary forms of portable wealth. For millennia, jewelry has been an important means of transporting wealth. Material value plays an important role, but it is not the only value jewelry holds. Jewelry can reconnect the wearer to spaces that are no longer accessible. My current project A Portrait of People in Motion looks at the role of objects in movement and migration, both voluntary and forced. The works in Heavy Metal explore my own experience with spatial displacement—both real and imagined.

3. As an artist, what is your most essential tool? Why?

My hands are my most essential tools. Making by hand is a way of thinking and learning that is not directly associated with intellect. I rely on proprioceptive interactions between my body and the material, leading me to act intuitively as I work.

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Kerianne Quick, What Time and Distance Cannot Shrink, 2017; Copper, fine silver, and sterling silver, dimensions variable; Courtesy of the artist

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Kerianne Quick, What Time and Distance Cannot Shrink (detail), 2017; Copper, fine silver, and sterling silver, dimensions variable; Courtesy of the artist

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Kerianne Quick, The Utility of Sentimental Emotions, and Perceived Value, 2017; Sterling silver, copper, and steel, 24 x 5 x 1/4 in.; Courtesy of the artist

4. Who or what are your sources of inspiration and influence?

I am obsessed with material and the information it can carry. I am inspired by the stories that objects can relate, authenticate, and enhance. I have made several bodies of work in this material-specific way of working. I explored communal sheep farming practices in the Orkney Isles, sugar farming in Hawaii, native copper mining in Ontonagon County, and derelict brickyards in New York’s Hudson Valley.

5. What is the last exhibition you saw that you had a strong reaction to?

I loved Dahn Vo: Take My Breath Away at the Guggenheim. He masterfully re-contextualizes objects in the physical space of the museum, allowing their historical significance to become an amalgam of new meaning and a new narrative. As a metalsmith, I think Vo’s We the People is a must see!

Visit the museum to see Heavy Metal, on view through September 16, 2018. Hear from more of the featured artists through the online Heavy Metal Audio Guide.

Alchemy of Fashion: The Wearable Art of “Heavy Metal”

From jackets made of hammered sheet metal, to cuffs of delicate copper and organza, Heavy Metal—Women to Watch 2018 features a diverse array of wearable art. On one level, these pieces can be appreciated as sculptural works of art. On another, they are functional objects.

Left: Carolina Rieckhof Brommer, Self-portrait 4, 2005; Welded steel, 47 1/4 x 27 1/2 x 19 3/4 in.; Courtesy of the artist; Photo by Natalia Revilla; Right: Kerianne Quick, The Utility of Sentimental Emotions, and Perceived Value, 2017; Sterling silver, copper, and steel, 24 x 5 x 1/4 in.; Courtesy of the artist

Artists Kerianne Quick and Carolina Rieckhof Brommer create wearable works that speak to the intimate roles that clothing and accessories can play in people’s lives. For both artists, metal is intrinsic to the meaning of their works. Quick’s The Utility of Sentimental Emotions, and Perceived Value (2017) references the objects that migrants—by choice or necessity—decide to leave behind or take with them. Quick’s work explores the significance and weight that a metal key can have to humans. Brommer’s welded steel coat, Self-portrait 4 (2005), mimics the folding and texture of fabric’s patchwork, but is as hard and immovable as armor. Brommer’s work was influenced by issues surrounding violence against women. The experience of shielding one’s body through clothing is not uncommon for many women.

Left: Cheryl Eve Acosta, Open to Heal, 2009; Cuff with copper and organza, 10 x 11 x 5 1/2 in.; Courtesy of the artist; © Cheryl Eve Acosta; Photo by Affandi Setiawa; Right: Petronella Eriksson, Water Lily, 2013; Necklace with silver and lemon quartz, 5 1/8 x 15 3/4 x 10 5/8 in.; Courtesy of the artist; Photo by Christian Habetzeder

Several Heavy Metal artists create wearable art in the form of jewelry. Their works play with contrast and highlight metal’s lustrous qualities. Artists Petronella Eriksson and Cheryl Eve Acosta take inspiration from the natural world. Eriksson’s necklace, Waterlily (2013), contains smooth silver and a large piece of lemon quartz. Delicate, curling tendrils spill onto one shoulder of the person wearing the necklace. A minimalistic take on the flower, the cut gem references the yellow fruit at the center of a real plant. Acosta, influenced by the tropical environment of her native Puerto Rico, finds inspiration beneath the sea. Although Acosta’s cuff Birth (2015) and collar Healing (2009) are made from copper, they refer to the shapes and forms of coral and barnacles.

Metal is both a standard material for delicate jewelry and an unlikely material for clothing. The artists in Heavy Metal embrace the unexpected to create innovative, dynamic works.

Heavy Metal—Women to Watch 2018 is on view through September 16, 2018.

—Nana Gongadze is the summer 2018 publications and communications/marketing intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.