Hello folks. Just in time for the holidays, I’ve got this year’s last interview for you!
If you’ve been following my posts, you might remember the first interview with Michael Rybicki for my “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Student” column. Well, it just so happens that Demitra Thomloudis, the second artist I have interviewed for this column is yet another student from San Diego State University, just like Michael was. I guess someone’s being doing something right in supporting these young talents develop their ideas and create such amazing work. I have admired Demitra’s work for quite some time now and I am very happy to share this interview with you.
Contemporarty: Before we talk about your work, would you like to give us some information on your Greek background?
Demitra Thomloudis: Absolutely! I am a Greek-American. My father was born and raised in Greece, specifically Kavala. He immigrated to the USA in his early 30’s. All of my father’s family lives in Greece and we visit family as much as possible. Our family has a small olive tree farm in Kavala, so my father visits at least once a year to tend to our trees. For the most part though, my family lives in Athens and is where I have spent many summers. My heritage is very important to me and has shaped the person and artist that I have become. My passion and excitement for life and art is undoubtedly rooted in Greece. Specifically relating to jewelry, Greece is currently fostering a dynamic relationship to the craft and building a strong community around it. In the last few years I have seen lots of inspiring and thoughtful jewelry work coming out of Greece, it seems like a great place to be right now within the international community. It is a dream of mine to have an exhibition in Athens! That would really connect all the dots for me!
C: Tell us a few words about your journey into contemporary jewelry. How did you discover your passion for it?
DT: I have always been interested in the body. In undergraduate school I was on track to becoming a medical illustration major. My second year in school I took a jewelry class and that was the end of my illustration career! As I developed in my schooling I had realized that drawing just wasn’t enough, I need material, I needed process, I need tradition and Jewelry encompassed everything I wanted.
C: You are inspired by architecture and reinventing new ways of using materials. How did you decide to work with cement and how did you discover new ways of using it to create objects that one can wear?
DT: Architecture is wonderful; it is formally and conceptually full of organizational information that I wish to follow but also defy. I turn to architecture as a formal framework and as inspiration for my material choices. I have always been drawn to use of uncommon materials, ones that are generally not associated with adornment. I see it as a great challenge and a primary purpose for using jewelry as my format of self-expression. I am interested in how I can transform these materials and have them be accepted as adornment. In my studio I work on 500 things as once, it’s the perfect example of organized chaos. All at the same time I am completing work, starting work, making test samples, drawing, painting you name it. Working on multiple projects at once helps to inform processes past and present. I believe that this is where most of my material discoveries come from. Those happy accidents that are then developed into an actual technique.
C: I feel that many of your pieces are not only jewelry but also sculptures that could stand by themselves. What are your thoughts on contemporary jewellery and wearability? And how does it make you feel when you see your pieces worn by others?
DT: I am trained as a jeweler and with that sensibility, I believe, comes the obligation to aesthetically and formally consider the entire object. The wearer visually and haptically investigates jewelry and it is important for me to put as much consideration to the front of the piece as I do to the back, the side, and even the interior. Considering the relative scale of some of my work, I see how it can operate in a sculptural realm but ultimately I make my work to be worn and design decisions are always made with the wearer in mind. All of my larger work is hollow constructed (yes even the cement pieces) so that they can operate in the arena of jewelry and lend themselves to our preconceptions of wearbility. The weight of my pieces is what surprises people the most.
C: Which persons have influenced your pathway as an artist and in what way?
DT: Lisa Bjorke, Andrea Wagner have been very influential to my practice. These two jewelers are completely consumed by their love for material. Both attempt to defy and conquer material in new and innovative ways, which is truly inspiring.
C: You are currently a resident at the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft. What will you focus on in the next 12 months and what do you wish to acquire from this program?
DT: The Program at HCCC is such a wonderful opportunity for my studio practice to grow. Houston Texas as a city has a wide variety of architectural information. Currently in Houston many of the older buildings are being torn down and new modern buildings are being build quite rapidly, therefore creating this landscape, which is constantly in flux. I have always been interested with the construction aspect of architecture and now within my daily periphery I get to see the inner workings of how the city structures are physically changing right before my eyes. In the last three months three homes on my block have been leveled to the ground and new construction has already started.
I have a few goals set for my stay here in Houston, which focus on past present and future projects.
- ( the past) is to continue to elaborate on my “remnants” series which I began in the beginning of 2013.
- (the present) I have begun working on a new body of work which slightly departs from my current work in the materials sense and is directly inspired by the landscape in the Houston area.
- ( the future) I will soon be launching a community facebook site entitled “ Jewelry is Here” which is to be used as an interactive community page to collect, uncover and showcase jewelry and its place within our shared lives. With the use of digital and instantaneous image making, it is my hope that this page can help facilitate a dialog, which contributes to our idea of what jewelry is, where it exists and the real time moments where it is found.
C: If someone told you “I’d like to become a contemporary jewelry artist” what would your advice to them be?
DT: Do It!
Demitra, thank you so much for the wonderful interview, good luck with all your current or future endeavors and we really hope to see your work exhibited here in Greece in the near future!
And thank you all for reading 🙂