A provocative exhibition by the Dutch artist Rian de Jong tackles the hot-button situation of guns. Making creative use of components these types of as paraffin wax, plastic foam, and twigs, de Jong has created jewelry and objects in the shape of guns that specific her shock and outrage over the prevalence of gun violence in the United States. The exhibition, at Gallery Loupe, in Montclair, NJ, closes May well 21, 2022.
Jennifer Altmann: You 1st explored the situation of guns for the exhibition A person Entire world, offered by Gallery Loupe, which questioned 40 international jewelers in the spring of 2020 to build a pendant in reaction to COVID. You made a necklace termed Hey Guys, Shoot That Damn Thing, with a gun created from cardboard on a single facet and a piece of coral that represented COVID on the other. You also created some gun-formed brooches. Following that, why did you keep with the topic of guns?
Rian de Jong: I couldn’t arrive unfastened from the topic—I was in the grip of those people pistols for the A single Environment exhibition. It was COVID, and we were dwelling in France at our house in the Pyrénées, which is in the type of Frank Lloyd Wright. And there was this astonishing news about a operate on arms profits in the US. And then a photograph from Lansing, MI, from a demonstration against the lockdown, of persons carrying weapons on their chests. It was in every newspaper in Europe. I couldn’t believe that it, just strolling the streets with these a navy weapon. I was surprised that guns have been permitted in a crowd like this. And that it is apparently usual in the US. In Europe, we can’t have an understanding of it. Guns are extremely controlled. So that was the get started.
You put in 14 decades residing on a 50-foot boat with your partner, Herman, viewing dozens of nations and participating with cultures that are quite unique from The Netherlands. Your viewpoint as an outsider provides a clean perspective to those people of us who reside in the US and who may well have just accepted the epidemic of gun violence as some thing we can’t fix.
Rian de Jong: Yes, the cultural discrepancies get me pondering. For this task, I asked, what does defending by yourself with a weapon indicate? Are you safeguarding oneself, or inciting violence and hatred? Is it to demonstrate you have ability? Why is it so important to have a gun in your car, beside your mattress?
The most spectacular piece in the exhibition is an object identified as Blackberry, a two-foot-extensive gun made from blackberry branches. How did you build it?
Rian de Jong: We have quite a few blackberry bushes developing on our land in France. When I trim them, the thorns prick me. I get scratches. And I considered: I have to make a gun from them. I dried the branches and sewed the twigs with each other working with crochet stitches. I want somebody to think, “If I select that gun up, I will get pricked.” I want you to consider the suffering of using the weapon in your palms, 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 crimson that drip down. The purple speaks for itself.
Many of the gun-formed objects are made from paraffin wax. Why did you use wax?
Rian de Jong: Wax is about fragility. For the object Behind Bars, I utilized black wax, which is extremely delicate, for the gun. The contours of the gun are copper and cold enamel, which I built by electroforming. The gun is imprisoned. It’s caged. Wax tends to make the gun susceptible. Commonly, a gun is extremely sturdy, but this just one would melt with heat, so it is 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 incorporate these colorful, sparkly stones?
Rian de Jong: I was thinking about historic weapons, those people that sultans and kings have. I also wished to bring some humor, to not make it all too critical. It’s nevertheless a gun, it is still perilous, but you can also make fun of it.
The objects are both equally jewellery and item for me. You have on it. You maintain it in your hand. You adhere it among your waistline and your skin. It might evoke humor, a smile, a dilemma, a considered, and possibly also responsibility. By creativeness, you may be equipped to make people today understand that they never want to have just about anything to do with the electric power and murderous attributes of weapons.
Did you worry that the exhibition would be too controversial?
Rian de Jong: Certainly, of class. But I had to do it, for the reason that it haunted me. This work is powerful, I understand that, but art has to make a assertion. For Us residents, it could be a little bit confronting. I hope that People in america are confronted by this. What I would like is for folks to don 1 of my parts, or have 1 at household, and have it start out a dialogue.
Tell me about Blue, a pendant necklace with a small upside-down gun manufactured of wrapped copper wire that is painted blue.
Rian de Jong: Pals who came to the studio were looking at this necklace, and at 1st they did not know what they ended up observing, and then at 1 second they observed that it was a gun. And I like that. You really do not see it at to start with look, but on a second search.
The pendant hangs from a slender brown rope.
Rian de Jong: The way a piece connects to the human body, I like that to be as humble as attainable, so I employed rope. It shows that you can make striking points with humble materials.
Red—a gun designed from red wax sticks—sits in a light-blue cardboard box, and on leading of the box you set a map with red dots marking all the web-sites of mass shootings in the United States. What do you hope it will get persons contemplating about?
Rian de Jong: People never comprehend how numerous shootings there have been. When you see it on the map, you notice the variety is great. The gun is a little bit playful. It appears to be like like licorice. You want to bite it.
Ring Gun is a a few-inch paraffin gun covered in a vine-like pattern of silver cold enamel. It’s attached to a ring, which suits around the finger, although the gun is tucked in the hand.
Rian de Jong: I like that you can hold it, you can truly feel it, you can present it. It is a bit naughty.
Your lifetime of travel has normally impressed your get the job done. This selection was made through the pandemic, when journey was restricted. How did staying set in France have an affect on this function?
Rian de Jong: We applied to be on land fifty percent the yr and on our boat the other fifty percent. That stopped with COVID. But you still have the memory of traveling, that’s often with you. Often I really don’t come to feel the inspiration for function at the instant we are touring, but it will come later, generally considerably later. It just will come.
What inspires you to retain producing jewellery?
Rian de Jong: I appreciate that you don it on your body, that it shows who you are. It’s component of your becoming. It’s what you love. It is who you are.
To learn more about the items in this display, check out the exhibition web page, below.