Trying to define the work of American artist Jennifer Crupi is a complex and delicate task, due to the unique aesthetics of her pieces. Her “jewellery” appears, at first look, overwhelming and daunting; not only because of their unique forms and finishes, but because of the particular way they interact with the person who dares to wear them. The designer herself says that her small works of art are a clear reflection of the fascination she feels for design and the aesthetics of equipment used for medical and scientific purposes. She also places special emphasis on the link that is thereby created with the human body and the juxtaposition between forms in nature and in the human body.
“All my pieces are articulated around a number gestures or poses and their associated meanings”.
As a result, Jennifer’s work is often, as she herself confesses, “great, industrial and with the feel of a prosthetic.” Her constant search for precision in her works has led to even make by hand the small screws and rivets required to hold them together. “My work is not the typical kind of jewellery making, but rather looks at the connection that exists and is established with the human body, which has evolved a great deal from my training in jewellery making,” she says. It thereby creates a new method of communication between the individual and their environment through body language.
Jennifer also states that with the growing presence of social media, email and text messages, real interpersonal communication is fading by the minute, and many of our deepest feelings are lost. “All my pieces are articulated around a number gestures or poses and their associated meanings, with the hope that viewers will realize the importance that the body plays in communication”.
“At the beginning I have many ideas in mind, but I also need to take tie me to clarify things. That’s why, in the pursuit of these ideas, prior research and sketches play such an important part in my work when it comes to conceptualising any design. Then, when I know what I want, I start to create a three-dimensional outline of the pieces using previous models”.
However, nothing is down to just chance – Jennifer looks frequently to the past in order to create something new, and feeds of shapes of old objects, particularly scientific and medical apparatus. “I’m fascinated by the detail, the finishes, the ornamentation and the mechanisms of the Victorian era. A visit to a museum or antique store can also spur me on to create new objects”.
“I’m very interested in psychology and I began to research, while I was studying, the movement of the human body and non-verbal communication.”
In terms of her work concept, she draws on people, and above all, the language of the human body itself. “I’m very interested in psychology and I began to research, while I was studying, the movement of the human body and non-verbal communication, postures, gestures… That’s why all the information of the people around me is important”.
However, Jennifer thinks it essential that her creative activity is meaningful and reflective. This is the great thing about art, that it produces reactions in the viewer and can create deep connections. “Many people tell me that my pieces are scary, but there are also those who want to use them immediately. If I’m doing my job as an artist well, at the very least I want to make viewers stop, think and connect. The Ornamental Hands series is designed to be more feminine, especially due to the size of the pieces, but other collections such as Foot Bouncer, Power Gesture and Finger Tapper are adapted to various sizes and are designed to be more androgynous”.
Most of the time, Jennifer creates trial versions of her pieces in aluminium or copper. At that stage, it is important that the mechanical or technical elements of these pieces work perfectly. That is essential to the success of each design. “From that point, it’s a slow and deliberate process to manufacture the object in sheet metal and wire. I often have to cut, hammer, weld and rivet all the parts. It’s a careful process of filing, cleaning and polishing the metal to a gleaming finish”.
“I love working with metal above all, to feel it and discover how it can transform”.
In addition, she is not satisfied with just one particular use for each object, but also thinks about what other use each design could have. Consequently, she creates for each piece a stand that presents them as small works of art to be contemplated. Creating each piece by hand makes them unique. “I love working with metal above all, to feel it and discover how it can transform. It’s an adaptable material that can seem hard or soft, dark or bright, textured or smooth. I also love its integrity,” she says.
Photos: Jennifer Crupi.
This article is also available in Español