Name: Catalina Brenes
Born: 1983, Costa Rica
Lives and works in: Florence, Italy
Contemporarty™: Tell us how you discovered your passion for contemporary jewellery.
Catalina: I was studying graphic design at the University of Costa Rica and each December we had an art fair. So, I started searching for something to present on the show, which I could make with my hands, instead of with the computer, were I was usually working for hours. In the search for something, which pleased me, were I could find myself, I started doing jewelry with found and ready-made objects. I started using materials I could find anywhere, from a hardware store to the supermarket. Any place was a paradise when I had an idea in mind. I found myself doing, thinking, creating only jewelry. I understood that time passed by when I was creating with my hands. So, I graduated from Graphic Design and in the meantime I was taking jewelry classes at Studio Metallo, Costa Rica. Two years later I applied at Alchimia Contemporary Jewellery School, where I studied for three years in Florence and where I’m still living and creating.
Cont.: Who or what inspires you?
C: Nature, nature, nature. I need nature. I grew up in a tropical country, Costa Rica. So I need green, I need colors, I need fresh air.
I’m always searching for colors and how to express myself through them. I’m also inspired by stores. Hardware stores are my favorites, toy stores as well.
I get inspired by objects, which I keep for a long time and afterwards they become jewels. Like my small plastic toys.
Who inspires me… Ted Noten and Karl Fritsch. They go beyond jewelry, they break the rules. But above all Manfred Bischoff who was our professor during the last year at Alchimia, and who I think influenced all of us, or at least in my case, left a big footprint to follow.
Cont.: How do you start creating a piece? By drawing, working directly with the material or do you have another approach?
C: I normally imagine them .. sometimes even dream about them. I start looking at images unrelated to jewelry that have to do with music, theatre, books, walking, eating. And while I’m doing this my mind goes away, thinking of pieces. Then I start directly on the material, either wax or resin.
I need both of them, I’m always working with flexible materials I can mold because they set me free. They allow me to make mistakes, to continue, to play, to enjoy the process.
Cont.: What attracts you to the materials you use?
C: I’m currently working with resin and wax. They set me free, as I mentioned before… I need materials that let me make mistakes, that are kind enough to let me think of a way in or out. I find it incredible how both materials transform and change with time. Resin becomes hard, wax becomes metal; I’m fascinated by this process.
I need moldable and sequential materials that allow me to play, to enjoy the creating process. I need also plastic; my small plastic toys are a must, and also pigments, which I mix with resin and the plastic bag becomes my canvas.
Cont.: Which piece is the most representative of your work? Give us some information on the making process.
C: My work is divided in two things. One is my plastic bags and the other are my wax rings that is why I have to mention two pieces. One is “Gioia”, a resin brooch I created recently. “Gioia” is one of my brooch series with pigments. I enjoy creating them so much. It represents freedom, innocence, my inner child. It represents myself better than any word, than anything I could write. It’s me.
The other is the series of rings I recently did for the exhibition “Morfosi” in Barcelona, because it was the result of a lot of ring work in wax, which I had been working on for a couple of years. While I was working on this series, I felt like it was the first time I belonged to what I was doing. They say “I’m here”, they gave me the breath I needed to continue working. They are a combination of my country’s nature and traditional italian jewelry but I give it my twist.
Cont.: What is the most indispensable item in your studio?
C: All my wax supplies, but one in particular… I have a small metal tool, which belonged to a dentist and now it is the one that helps me finish the wax pieces. Also all my different color pigments, I need to have them beside me when I’m creating my resins, and my small toy collection, which I always look at to get my ideas, to help me turn them into jewelry.
Resin and wax… I need them.
Cont.: What project are you working on now?
C: Currently I’m working on several projects. One is a collection for my country, Costa Rica, which will be exhibited in November through December 2011 and is dedicated to the sun, the passion, the rhythm of my land.
I’m also preparing several resin necklaces for Collect London 2012 and on a small wax production, which will hopefully be exhibited next year in Libanon.
Finally, I’m making a body of work, which I will carry with me to Berlin where I’m moving next May – June 2012. I’m constantly searching for new exhibitions, spaces, projects… it keeps me going and creating.
Cont.: Contemporary jewellery is…
It is expressing yourself in your own way. And the best part is that it’s a movable thing, which somebody get’s to wear and show around. I think that it is the best part of these creations…get to wear it, touch it, carry it, show it, smell it, taste it… it’s you in it’s maximum. I believe that jewelry is freedom; there is no freedom without art, without expression, without creation. Jewelry is my way, it is our way, to be free.
Jewellery is love, food, drink, dance, smile, cry, work, breathe, BE.
Thank you Catalina for the lovely and inspiring interview and for the wonderful pictures. I’m so excited to see your new pieces!!!!