Where do you get your inspiration? Jewelry designer Temple St. Clair tells us about the artists that have influenced her work.
I find inspiration in many different art forms and from many eras – from ancient to modern. I recently accompanied my ten year-old son to the Metropolitan Museum of Art here in New York City. He was studying Mesopotamia and the Assyrians and Babylonians. His homework was to find and sketch particular artifacts. My favorite kind of project! We sketched together, and though familiar with this period, I never cease to be amazed at the graphic detail of the sculpture and stone carvings. If one of these pieces was placed in a Picasso museum, it could easily be mistaken for one of the modern master's works. In ancient art, the patterns and repeated motifs become the aesthetic vocabulary not only for design but also for symbolic purposes; I find this absolutely fascinating.
Among my favorite contemporary artists are Richard Diebenkorn and Mark Rothko. Both were masters of color. Rothko's colors emanate beyond the surface of his canvases. I believe this is why many museums fill entire spaces with Rothkos. The Tate Modern in London has one of my favorite "Rothko rooms." The color of a beautifully cut gemstone has a life of its own in a similar way. I select gems for individual color, but also for how their colors work together. There are tourmalines and aquamarines that I never tire looking at. For me, that's the fascination of color whether in a natural gemstone or in a painting. In Richard Diebenkorn's "Ocean Park" series, he relies heavily on color for his composition with very little use of actual line. I think about this when I am putting stone layouts together. The colors of the stones as they relate create the design of the piece; the metal work merely supplies the structure.
It is not that one artist or one art form has influenced my work directly. It is more about creating a lifestyle that celebrates an awareness of beauty in art and nature. With my work, I am lucky in that I have been able to cultivate a reason to read and study and explore. I collect ideas, thoughts and images through literature, music, performance, through visits to museums and travel. I keep a sketch or a postcard or a book on things that I particularly love and that move me. It all goes in to my work and my daily life.
Gallery: Temple St. Clair's Blue Inspirations