“The most potent muse of all is our own inner child.”
– Stephen Nachmanovitch
Two months ago, I was putting the finishing touches on what I had already dubbed my “Back to School” collection. Like a lot of my peers born in the mid- to late-80′s, I’ve been nostalgic for the glory days of Nickelodeon and the carefree days of childhood.
Typical. I know.
And since you now realize just how much of a cliché I am, I’ll also admit that I never bothered to grow out of cartoons. They’ve always been a refreshing retreat from the television that I’m supposed to watch (according to advertising agencies), which usually leave me feeling cynical or inadequate. And while there are a few exemplary cartoons created in recent years that I already consider classics, NOTHING compares to the colors, characters and general creativity of Rocko, Rugrats, Doug, et al.
It was after a weekend binge of classic Nick (which arguably justifies the cost of Amazon Prime) that I realized how much I longed to live in a world of clashing colors and imperfect polygons. Not to escape reality, but to make it more bearable. So I began poring over the other shows that I obsessed about with friends during our formative years. It then became obvious that I needed to bring to life the mesmerizing shapes, colors and patterns of a collective childhood.
There was just something about watching those shows that I needed to bottle up for perpetuity. They made me feel at home, but also provided the senses of freedom and wonder that I only get when I’m traveling. Since it’s been too long since I was able to feed my insatiable travel bug, I decided to journey instead through time.
I’ll give you a second to regain control of your gag reflex…
I’m sure that if you consider yourself a “real” adult, by now your eyes are in the back of your head and you are successfully chugging your third cup of coffee while simultaneously scoffing at my need to connect to my inner child. Your judgment is welcome and likely warranted. Still, I have yet to find a better shield against complacency or destructive thoughts than draping myself and my surroundings in colors straight out of a Crayola box. Attempting to do so with a level of sophistication is a challenge that makes getting out of the bed each day a little less difficult. Helping others accomplish that same goal through my work is — at the risk of testing your gag reflex again — my raison d’être.
So, inspired and newly confident in my beading skills after a well-received Spring/Summer collection, I got carried away experimenting with patterns and color combinations. Translating the purely playful aesthetic of my youth into well-crafted jewelry that grown women (other than myself) would want to wear took more hours and energy than I anticipated. By mid-August, I was racing against time to finish the final prototypes and shoot photos before my clever “Back to School” moniker became outdated.
Of course, that is exactly what happened when my relationship of four years ended abruptly, and my best/only option was dropping everything and moving to my birth home of Chicago. My nostalgia caught up with the present in the most cruel (and necessary) way. I came right back to where it all began.
Now it makes more sense than ever to create this collection inspired by the child that made her first and most confident steps in this city. (Hense, the new name: Homecoming.) I wanted to make jewelry that made me feel like the person who danced carelessly on the front porch again. I also wanted my pieces to serve as delightful and disarming shields against the tedium and trials of everyday adulthood for women also passionate about getting that life.
What I came up with in turn was a beaded jewelry line that references the irreverent color schemes and geometry of my childhood, but with a modern sense of simplicity and sophistication.
Naturally, the rhythmic use of color/pattern betrays traces of the Masai’s influence on me, also dating back to my early life.
I left Atlanta exactly one month ago today, and have gotten as settled as I can in my aunt and uncle’s house (where I’m staying until I get my own place). It’s the same house I spent hours in each day before and after attending the Catholic school around the corner. (I’ll spare you the diatribe about walking back and forth in snow taller than I was.) The Kenyan art I stared at and played with at every opportunity still sits on the shelves and walls. I pass by them each day, and remember again what it feels like to be at home.