A provocative exhibition by the Dutch artist Rian de Jong tackles the very hot-button challenge of guns. Building creative use of supplies these kinds of as paraffin wax, plastic foam, and twigs, de Jong has designed jewellery and objects in the form of guns that convey her shock and outrage above the prevalence of gun violence in the United States. The exhibition, at Gallery Loupe, in Montclair, NJ, closes May perhaps 21, 2022.
Jennifer Altmann: You 1st explored the challenge of guns for the exhibition Just one Globe, introduced by Gallery Loupe, which requested 40 international jewelers in the spring of 2020 to develop a pendant in response to COVID. You designed a necklace known as Hey Men, Shoot That Damn Detail, with a gun built from cardboard on one particular facet and a piece of coral that represented COVID on the other. You also created some gun-shaped brooches. Soon after that, why did you continue to be with the concept of guns?
Rian de Jong: I could not appear free from the topic—I was in the grip of people pistols for the One particular Entire world exhibition. It was COVID, and we were living in France at our property in the Pyrénées, which is in the design of Frank Lloyd Wright. And there was this astonishing news about a operate on arms revenue in the US. And then a photograph from Lansing, MI, from a demonstration versus the lockdown, of folks carrying weapons on their chests. It was in every newspaper in Europe. I could not think it, just walking the streets with these types of a armed service weapon. I was amazed that guns have been permitted in a group like this. And that it is seemingly normal in the US. In Europe, we can not recognize it. Guns are very regulated. So that was the begin.
You used 14 yrs residing on a 50-foot boat with your spouse, Herman, viewing dozens of nations and participating with cultures that are extremely different from The Netherlands. Your perspective as an outsider brings a refreshing perspective to all those of us who stay in the US and who may possibly have just accepted the epidemic of gun violence as a thing we just cannot deal with.
Rian de Jong: Indeed, the cultural differences get me pondering. For this challenge, I asked, what does defending yourself with a weapon signify? Are you protecting by yourself, or inciting violence and hatred? Is it to confirm you have electric power? Why is it so vital to have a gun in your automobile, beside your bed?
The most remarkable piece in the exhibition is an item named Blackberry, a two-foot-very long gun produced from blackberry branches. How did you produce it?
Rian de Jong: We have numerous blackberry bushes escalating on our land in France. When I trim them, the thorns prick me. I get scratches. And I thought: I have to make a gun from them. I dried the branches and sewed the twigs alongside one another employing crochet stitches. I want someone to imagine, “If I select that gun up, I will get pricked.” I want you to envision the discomfort of having the weapon in your palms, the thorns that sting your skin. There are threads hanging from the front of the gun, and from the threads are drops of modeling clay painted purple that drip down. The purple speaks for itself.
Several of the gun-formed objects are built from paraffin wax. Why did you use wax?
Rian de Jong: Wax is about fragility. For the object Driving Bars, I utilised black wax, which is really comfortable, for the gun. The contours of the gun are copper and cold enamel, which I made by electroforming. The gun is imprisoned. It’s caged. Wax tends to make the gun vulnerable. Normally, a gun is incredibly strong, but this 1 would soften with warmth, so it’s not a gun. It’s an illusion. If it melts, the contour of the gun will remain.
You have adorned some objects with Swarovski crystals. What prompted you to insert these colorful, sparkly stones?
Rian de Jong: I was pondering about historic weapons, people that sultans and kings have. I also desired to convey some humor, to not make it all also really serious. It is nonetheless a gun, it’s however hazardous, but you can also make enjoyable of it.
The objects are both of those jewelry and object for me. You don it. You hold it in your hand. You adhere it concerning your waistline and your pores and skin. It could evoke humor, a smile, a question, a assumed, and maybe also responsibility. By imagination, you may be capable to make people today comprehend that they never want to have just about anything to do with the electrical power and murderous features of weapons.
Did you be concerned that the exhibition would be much too controversial?
Rian de Jong: Yes, of program. But I had to do it, since it haunted me. This operate is intense, I realize that, but art has to make a assertion. For Americans, it might be a little bit confronting. I hope that Us residents are confronted by this. What I would like is for people today to wear one of my pieces, or have 1 at residence, and have it start a discussion.
Convey to me about Blue, a pendant necklace with a compact upside-down gun created of wrapped copper wire which is painted blue.
Rian de Jong: Close friends who arrived to the studio had been looking at this necklace, and at very first they did not know what they were being viewing, and then at a person minute they noticed that it was a gun. And I like that. You do not see it at to start with glance, but upon a next glance.
The pendant hangs from a slim brown rope.
Rian de Jong: The way a piece connects to the overall body, I like that to be as humble as feasible, so I applied rope. It displays that you can make placing things with humble resources.
Purple—a gun designed from crimson wax sticks—sits in a light-weight-blue cardboard box, and on prime of the box you place a map with red dots marking all the internet sites of mass shootings in the United States. What do you hope it receives persons pondering about?
Rian de Jong: People today don’t understand how many shootings there have been. When you see it on the map, you notice the range is enormous. The gun is a bit playful. It appears to be like like licorice. You want to chunk it.
Ring Gun is a 3-inch paraffin gun lined in a vine-like pattern of silver cold enamel. It’s hooked up to a ring, which suits in excess of the finger, though the gun is tucked in the hand.
Rian de Jong: I like that you can maintain it, you can sense it, you can exhibit it. It is a little bit naughty.
Your daily life of travel has frequently inspired your perform. This selection was designed in the course of the pandemic, when travel was limited. How did being place in France impact this function?
Rian de Jong: We applied to be on land half the yr and on our boat the other 50 percent. That stopped with COVID. But you however have the memory of touring, that is normally with you. Occasionally I really don’t truly feel the inspiration for get the job done at the moment we are traveling, but it will come afterwards, frequently a lot later on. It just will come.
What conjures up you to hold creating jewellery?
Rian de Jong: I enjoy that you have on it on your system, that it displays who you are. It’s part of your remaining. It’s what you like. It is who you are.
To discover much more about the parts in this display, check out out the exhibition web site, in this article.