A provocative exhibition by the Dutch artist Rian de Jong tackles the warm-button difficulty of guns. Making ingenious use of supplies this kind of as paraffin wax, plastic foam, and twigs, de Jong has developed jewelry and objects in the form of guns that categorical her shock and outrage in excess of the prevalence of gun violence in the United States. The exhibition, at Gallery Loupe, in Montclair, NJ, closes May possibly 21, 2022.
Jennifer Altmann: You to start with explored the issue of guns for the exhibition One Planet, introduced by Gallery Loupe, which requested 40 international jewelers in the spring of 2020 to create a pendant in response to COVID. You designed a necklace identified as Hey Men, Shoot That Damn Matter, with a gun manufactured from cardboard on 1 aspect and a piece of coral that represented COVID on the other. You also manufactured some gun-formed brooches. Right after that, why did you stay with the theme of guns?
Rian de Jong: I couldn’t appear loose from the topic—I was in the grip of these pistols for the A single World exhibition. It was COVID, and we were dwelling in France at our household in the Pyrénées, which is in the model of Frank Lloyd Wright. And there was this astonishing news about a run on arms product sales in the US. And then a picture from Lansing, MI, from a demonstration versus the lockdown, of persons carrying weapons on their chests. It was in each individual newspaper in Europe. I could not imagine it, just walking the streets with such a military weapon. I was shocked that guns ended up allowed in a crowd like this. And that it is evidently standard in the US. In Europe, we cannot realize it. Guns are really regulated. So that was the get started.
You put in 14 several years living on a 50-foot boat with your husband, Herman, browsing dozens of international locations and participating with cultures that are extremely distinct from The Netherlands. Your viewpoint as an outsider provides a contemporary perspective to those of us who live in the US and who may possibly have just acknowledged the epidemic of gun violence as some thing we just cannot fix.
Rian de Jong: Sure, the cultural discrepancies get me contemplating. For this task, I asked, what does defending your self with a weapon indicate? Are you defending by yourself, or inciting violence and hatred? Is it to prove you have energy? Why is it so crucial to have a gun in your automobile, beside your mattress?
The most extraordinary piece in the exhibition is an object termed Blackberry, a two-foot-long gun created from blackberry branches. How did you make it?
Rian de Jong: We have many blackberry bushes expanding on our land in France. When I trim them, the thorns prick me. I get scratches. And I assumed: I have to make a gun from them. I dried the branches and sewed the twigs jointly applying crochet stitches. I want an individual to imagine, “If I decide that gun up, I will get pricked.” I want you to imagine the ache of using the weapon in your fingers, 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 crimson speaks for itself.
Quite a few of the gun-shaped objects are made from paraffin wax. Why did you use wax?
Rian de Jong: Wax is about fragility. For the object Driving Bars, I made use of black wax, which is incredibly tender, for the gun. The contours of the gun are copper and cold enamel, which I built by electroforming. The gun is imprisoned. It is caged. Wax makes the gun vulnerable. Generally, a gun is extremely sturdy, but this a person would soften with warmth, so it’s not a gun. It’s an illusion. If it melts, the contour of the gun will keep on being.
You’ve adorned some objects with Swarovski crystals. What prompted you to insert these colourful, sparkly stones?
Rian de Jong: I was wondering about historic weapons, those that sultans and kings have. I also preferred to bring some humor, to not make it all too serious. It is continue to a gun, it is nevertheless hazardous, but you can also make fun of it.
The objects are both equally jewelry and object for me. You dress in it. You maintain it in your hand. You adhere it among your waistline and your skin. It could evoke humor, a smile, a dilemma, a thought, and potentially also responsibility. By imagination, you may perhaps be equipped to make men and women notice that they never want to have anything at all to do with the electrical power and murderous attributes of weapons.
Did you stress that the exhibition would be as well controversial?
Rian de Jong: Certainly, of program. But I had to do it, for the reason that it haunted me. This operate is extreme, I comprehend that, but artwork has to make a assertion. For Americans, it might be a bit confronting. I hope that Us citizens are confronted by this. What I would like is for men and women to wear one of my parts, or have just one at residence, and have it begin a dialogue.
Explain to me about Blue, a pendant necklace with a compact upside-down gun created of wrapped copper wire that’s painted blue.
Rian de Jong: Buddies who came to the studio had been wanting at this necklace, and at initial they did not know what they had been seeing, and then at a single moment they observed that it was a gun. And I like that. You really don’t see it at very first look, but upon a next seem.
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 employed rope. It shows that you can make placing things with humble elements.
Pink—a gun produced from purple wax sticks—sits in a mild-blue cardboard box, and on prime of the box you place a map with red dots marking all the web-sites of mass shootings in the United States. What do you hope it will get people thinking about?
Rian de Jong: People never recognize how quite a few shootings there have been. When you see it on the map, you realize the quantity is great. The gun is a bit playful. It appears to be like like licorice. You want to chunk it.
Ring Gun is a three-inch paraffin gun included in a vine-like sample of silver cold enamel. It is attached to a ring, which fits around the finger, whilst the gun is tucked in the hand.
Rian de Jong: I like that you can maintain it, you can experience it, you can demonstrate it. It is a bit naughty.
Your life of journey has normally encouraged your function. This selection was made for the duration of the pandemic, when vacation was limited. How did being place in France impact this get the job done?
Rian de Jong: We made use of to be on land 50 percent the 12 months and on our boat the other half. That stopped with COVID. But you even now have the memory of traveling, which is always with you. At times I do not come to feel the inspiration for do the job at the minute we are touring, but it comes later on, frequently much later on. It just comes.
What evokes you to retain producing jewelry?
Rian de Jong: I adore that you put on it on your body, that it shows who you are. It is section of your staying. It’s what you adore. It is who you are.
To discover a lot more about the items in this display, examine out the exhibition page, here.