Multimedia artist Rebecca Mir Grady wrote a zine about weather, storms and other earthly phenomena, called “She is Restless.” And, after years of apprenticing for jewelry makers, Mir Grady launched her own line, which debuted at Dose Market earlier this month. I recently spoke with her about flying, icebergs and being in a long-distance relationship with the ocean.
The pieces in your first collection have a dual aesthetic appeal: they’re both thematically mystical (mythological names, visual references to runes and magical spells) and formally simple and geometrical, even geological. What was your approach to these designs?
Jewelry is inherently mystical. Pieces can become talismans, and some are passed down through generations. This collection grew out of a handful of pieces that I made for myself and friends to wear everyday.
The Tramontana necklace was made to be a talisman for me—a simple rendering of a compass, with four points on a gold ring. I’ve always been interested in traveling and exploration. My dad was a pilot, and I grew up reading stories of fliers, whom some of the pieces in the collection are named for. The simplicity of the designs is both an aesthetic decision and a conceptual one. The designs reference landscapes and rock formations, and the shapes of wings and arrows.
What is the relationship between your jewelry and the other more conceptual work in your art practice? I can’t help but see parallels to the oceanic and geological imagery in projects like your Iceberg Mountainous installation project.
There’s lots of crossover between my art practice and my jewelry. I’ve been doing both for a long time. I learned how to make jewelry in high school; I took classes at a local art college and apprenticed with jewelry designers. Then I studied sculpture and visual arts in college and graduate school, but I never stopped making jewelry.
I’ve worked as a metalsmith for over eight years now. I think that it’s worked its way into my brain and taken over a bit. I found that I started coming home after work and trying to figure out how to turn my drawings of icebergs into jewelry. There are two in the collection—Falkland and Greenland, they are sketches of the underwater halves of icebergs. I was born in Alaska, and grew up in Maine, a short drive from the beach. Living in the Midwest, I channel homesickness for the landscape of my childhood into projects like the “Long Distance Relationship with the Ocean” and into some of the jewelry designs, like the Appalachian mountain studs.
Environmentalism is clearly a strong underlying theme in all your work, whether it’s in re-imagining our relationships to the earth or creating new mythologies about it. Is the production of your jewelry from found/ethically sourced materials a model of such re-imagination?
Absolutely. I want the jewelry line, and its production to have a positive mythology. I held off on launching the collection until I knew I could source recycled materials for the jewelry. If enough designers and producers promote recycled materials, ethically sourced stones and fair and safe working practices, we can reimagine the fashion industry. (Monica Westin)