Co:operation Garnish Collaboration!

My friend, peer  and colleague Kate Furman and I joined together to create a neckpiece in hopes to get into a traveling exhibition titled Co:operation Garnish, curated by Rachel Timmins and Brigitte Martin. We met at RISD in the jewelry department where we were both getting our MFAs.......and have been friends ever since! [photos of piece on model by KT Kanazawicz]


Kate Furman works with wood. Her pieces tell stories. They tell of storms weathered and turbulent whitewater navigated. She collects things while wandering in wilderness, seduced by the cast off flora generously littering the ground beneath her feet. They are scored with lines and scars depicting their histories and hinting to aspects of the primitive environment we deprive ourselves of. They are a part of the natural cycle, undisturbed and unprotected. Furman aims to highlight their undulations and ornate subtleties; their presence alone serves as a sketchbook, or journal, of where she has been and what she has seen. After gathering detritus from the forest floor, she manipulates, alters and responds to the beauty within branches, bark, and sticks. By tracing and replicating the curves of the human body, her pieces contour and move to it, thereby intertwining and activating each other. She translates this admiration and wonder into jewelry.

            Sophia Sophia makes jewelry using color as her muse. She considers each piece a small painting, portable and precious. Her palette is anything but subtle, using hues that scream for attention. Sophia’s colors are inspired by everything from freshly cut citrus fruit and meticulous rows of fluorescent nail polish to textiles from around the world and seen on the runway. Her work is meant for making statements and starting conversations. She makes rings as big as your hand and as colorful as the candy at a circus. Most recently Sophia has been casting and fabricating shapes that are soldered, stacked and dangled next to each other and filled with resin. She uses traditional techniques of metalsmithing to create simple forms, becoming not so simple when they are put together and painted.

            “Freakshow,” 2015, is a collaboration between Furman and Sophia’s hands. Furman was the first to touch the piece. Residing in North Carolina, she whittled and weeded through her wooden scraps to create a raw canvas for Sophia to paint. She stitched geometric and organic shapes that were different thicknesses together. The beginning for Kate was fairly normal to what she is used to, making jewelry with wood. The two communicated throughout the entire process, sending pictures and talking over the phone, trying to decide how they wanted the neckpiece to evolve. They knew they wanted something large with no boundaries. Kate made a patchwork of pieces that covered the entire front of the body. She eventually finished her part in the project, sending Sophia, located in Upstate, NY, a base to work from.

            Sophia received Furman’s box that had “fragile” written all over it, along with childish scribbles and drawings of her dog that she knows Sophia thinks is ugly. To much of her surprise, the piece was actually way larger than what Sophia had envisioned, but she was excited to put her mark on it. She knew she wanted to take away from the natural quality of the wood, as well as juxtapose the materials used. She riveted and dangled brass shapes filled with vibrant primary color. It didn’t seem like enough so she eventually began to intervene with the wood itself, something she hasn’t worked with in a long time. Sophia burred tiny craters and carved a few lines in the top pieces to be filled with resin. She then decided to paint the wooden pieces, trying to unify the entire necklace and the voices of each artist. She also added a brass square chain to make it wearable.

            “Freakshow” embodies the two completely different styles of each artist. It’s thrifty and recycled, structured and fragile, colorful and natural, primal and outspoken, metal and wood. It’s a neckpiece that could’ve been made with the perfect flea market finds- an old picnic table meets a child’s coloring book, a patterned t-shirt lays softly in the dirt, broken plastic toys found in an old wooden crate. The collision and collaboration between Kate Furman and Sophia Sophia resulted in a work of art that resembles not only their studio practices but also their real life relationship, one big freakshow.