Heidi Lowe Gallery is proud to present Steel Magnolias featuring work by April Wood and Liz Clark. This exhibition brings together two studio jewelers working with the flower as a formal aspect of their work as well as the subject. Both Wood and Clark use steel and silver to explore the idea of adornment and the floral vocabulary prominent in their artwork. Please join us for the opening of Steel Magnolias from 5-7 p.m. on July 7. Steel Magnolias will be on view through August 15.
The magnolia flower releases a heady scent, attracting and intoxicating those in its proximity. This power of attraction and seduction is what fuels my work. Flowers and fruiting bodies speak of fecundity and fertility, growth being a literal outcropping of that.
As a jeweler, I am intrigued by the placement of flowers on the body, both real and fabricated varieties. To adorn with flowers is to enhance beauty, titillate the senses, increase attraction. The wearing of flowers and the wearing of jewelry have acted as signifiers throughout history, proclaiming availability or marital status, among other things. It is this power I find in jewelry to attract the viewer, drawing outsiders to the wearer, well, like bees to flowers.
I utilize botanical images in lace, toying with the convergence of masculine and feminine through materials and imagery. It is this convergence of strength and delicacy, soft and hard, industrial and natural expressed in Steel Magnolias.
“Flowers are more than objects of mere admiration, they are flowers of rhetoric and speak their feelings with far more tenderness and force than words can describe.”
-Elizabeth Wirt, Flora’s Dictionary, 1832
We often perceive flowers as a symbol of beauty, but not often as a symbol of strength. The frailty of beauty and flowers has long been established. But sometimes flowers are fragile only in appearance. Magnolias are one of the first flowering trees to bloom in spring, braving the colder weather and possible freeze. They are primitive angiosperms that date back tens of thousands of years. The qualities of the tree, its fruit, and blossoms are not only why magnolias have endured but also why they are revered in many cultures. They symbolize nobility, dignity, and perseverance, attributes that are well suited for adorning the body.
In this series, I am investigating the unusual and wonderful aspects of magnolias that have attributed to its survival for so many centuries. The cone-like fruit of the magnolias guard bright red seeds that when sprouted, split and fall from the fruit like small red jewels. Its stamenis composed of small curling tendrils cradled within its petals. The flowers have a striking silhouette and pose like gestured hands.
Steel magnolias, as a term of endearment, refers to a woman who exemplifies both traditional femininity as well as an uncommon fortitude. The work in this exhibition intends to capture the visual and physiological strength of the magnolia through silver, steel, and stone in both a literal and interpretive stylization.