J O N A T H A N C. WA H L
The Jet Drawing Series.
In my current body of work, a series of ten, 40" x 50" charcoal drawings of Victorian jet mourning jewelry, I am interested in scale and perception. I am intrigued with how the viewer relates to or perceives these historical objects of jewelry when rendered larger than life, out of scale, and how this shift from three dimensions to two parallels a rift between jewelry and fine art.
The jet jewelry that were the models for my drawings were made during the mid to late 19th century carved by hand from jet, a fossilized material similar to coal but more durable. They were worn during a woman's period of mourning after the death of a loved one when wearing conventional precious jewelry would have been deemed inappropriate.
Today these objects seem Gothic, yet contemporary and almost timeless due to their reflective surfaces and monochromatism. Yet today, we could barely imagine reenacting their specific and prescribed sociological role in Victorian society. Both the objects' timeless beauty and our alienation from their original roles make them perfectly ambiguous when viewed in the scale in which I have rendered them. I am more interested in them for these qualities than any nostalgic longing for gothic mourning.
Rendered as large drawings they become abstracted, transcending their history and meaning and become ominous objects of unknown origin. They invite the viewer to speculate and draw them in. Being both a jeweler and sculptor I am very aware of how my clients view both fields differently, drawn to them for very different reasons, as well as how the larger art world classifies them. In this current work, I hope to invite the viewer to speculate on the myriad of reasons they might be drawn to the qualities inherent in both jewelry and fine art and perhaps explore what this shift means. How would they perceive these drawings differently if framed behind their couch or worn as a brooch on their jacket?
Artist Bio / CV
J O N A T H A N C. WA H L
Jonathan Wahl’s art work ranges from sculpture to the decorative arts. His work has been featured or reviewed in publications as diverse as the New York Times, Art in America, The New Yorker, Oprah Magazine, W Jewelry, Metalsmith magazine, Harpers Bazaar and the Advocate among others.
He has been awarded the Louis Comfort Tiffany Emerging Artist Fellowship from the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation, a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship and the Pennsylvania Society of Goldsmiths Award for "Outstanding Achievement." Part of the permanent collection of the American Craft Museum he was named one of the top-10 jewelers to watch by W Jewelry in 2006. Mr. Wahl is an accomplished artist who, from 1994 to 1995, served as artist-in-residence at Hochschule Der Kunst in Berlin, Germany. Mr Wahl’s work is exhibited both nationally and internationally.