Thursday, October 30, 2008

Talismans and Talents

Art, Anthrology, Travel and Craft

This is another in the ongoing series of posts about Legendary Jewelrymakers, focused on inspirational designers and creative minds who work in jewelry and physical adornment.

Photo: Gum San Journey, 1996, Silver, copper, gold, antique porcelain and leather

Ron Ho was born in Hawaii in 1936. and raised in the traditions of China by his parents, while immersed in the American contemporary lifestyle. You can see the influences of both on his art. He began making jewelry using dominos and bottlecaps, and now works in elegant shapes of silver and carved jade. He uses trinkets, artifacts, antiques and fabric to inspire thoughts of exotic locations and memories of places and times long past.

Right Photo: Dim Sum at the On-On Tea Room
Left Photo: African Safari

His jewelry was featured in Art Jewelry magazine in July 2007, where I first saw his work. I was interested in his style, and later learned that he studied under Ramona Solberg who helped him make the choice to switch from painting to jewelry in his artistic expression. He creates jewelry as storyteller, a wearable narrative, an idea I find enchanting.

Left Photo: Xian - Return to Silk Route, 2005, Carved chinese jade and fabricated beads
Right Photo: Return to Rafasthan, In Memory of Ramona Solberg, 2005, Indian jewels and gems

Ron Ho has a visual vocabulary of ethnic items but using the everyday items like chairs, birds and buttons, to express a cultural message. His first jewelry piece, 'All Fall Down' created in 1969, strongly reflects an influence of Ramona Solberg's found object jewelry. He creates tiny sculptures, wearable as jewelry.

The effects of extensive travels in Thailand, Vietname, Nepal, Indonesia and Afghanistan are apparent in his work, with a definite tribal or ethnic feeling combined with a sense of whimsey. Now located and based in the Northwest, you detect the region's influence in the eskimo ivory fishing harpoons and other icons from that culture. He incorporates items from his travels into his designs to create a story of his experiences, mixed with myth, mystery and history. The idea of artist as shaman or alchemist.

I sometimes feel that way, when I'm mixing chemicals or applying heat to metal and watching it change color and shape. It's magical. I enjoy the idea of having jewelry tell a story, or provide the first lines for the wearer to complete the story with their own ending.

Photo: Ivory Encounter, 1975, Ivory carvings with forged and fabricated silver

The article 'Tales of Migration: The Jewelry of Ron Ho' written by S. Beal, was published in the journal American Craft Vol 67, 2007, and he is included in 'Craft in America' as one of the metal artists.

He's a member of the SNAG, Society of North American Goldsmiths, and designs intricate and beautiful works using precious metals, jade, ivory and porcelain, antiques and folk art pieces.

For more information about him, check out these articles and gallery reviews at Craft in America, or the Bellevue Art Museum.


SarahKelley said...

Amazing! Thanks for this series!

LLYYNN - Lynn Davis said...

Great to know you enjoy the series, I sometimes wonder if anyone is interested in the subject. I like doing the research to learn what I can about these fantastic creative minds, and hope I'm not the only one! Your feedback lets me know - you are interested after all! So thanks very much.

Melissa J. Lee said...

Ron Ho is one of my all time favorite metal artists. I never cease to be inspired by his work. Great post, Lynn!

BluKatKraft said...

I was sooooo lucky to have Ron as my high school teacher, love his work!