Zihan Yang, Brooch “D.H. V”
2019 sterling silver, 18K yellow gold, stainless steel (pin), mm 60x60x33. Credits: artist
I interviewed Zihan Yang, one of the seven winners of Preziosa Young 2020, the international contest organised by Le Arti Orafe since 2008, dedicated to emerging talents of the contemporary jewellery scene.
Her pieces will be shown during the Florence Jewellery Week 2020 (Florence, 28.05 – 4.06), together with the jewels by the other winners (Elwy Schutten, Chia-Hsien Lin, Marie Masson, Jess Tolbert, Rachael Colley, Dongyi Wu) in the “Galleria del Palazzo“, the Coveri‘s art gallery located along the Arno river.
Zihan Yang, Brooch D.H. III
2019, sterling silver, stainless steel (pin), mm 50x60x30. Credits: artist
When dealing with contemporary goldsmith artists or jewellery designers, the first curiosity is to know how one has chosen ornament as the main means of expression. Why jewellery in particular and what was your training in this field?
ZIHAN YANG: My background was industrial design. To be honest, I do not remember why I chose jewelry. Fortunately, it is a good decision so far.
In the first year of studying jewelry at Savannah College of Art and Design in the United States, I focused on to learn hand fabrication and new techniques, and meanwhile, I studied art history and history of jewelry. I was no background with jewelry before, so I have to as quickly as I could to improve my professional knowledge to be able to deliver my ideas from my mind. Everything I made in the first year, they were just like so many little broken pieces with no feelings. Until after I graduated, when I look back now, I totally understand that all the experiences I had have built and influenced my pieces.
Your jewels try to give shape to the dark side of human nature. That is given back through the multiplication of small black elements that build the pieces. Do you want to better explain the aim of your research?
ZIHAN YANG: My studio practice focuses on exploring the darkness of human nature to create jewelry objects to express my understanding and point of view to the viewers. Humanity has difficulty with introspection. The dark abyss of human behavior can appear suddenly; therefore, the means to restrain these behaviors must be practiced our whole life.
As humans, we like to see ourselves from a positive perspective and often do not engage in understanding our negative aspects. Normally, facing choices is a direct way of showing human nature. The decision is not only between right and wrong and often it’s hard to understand how to behave: most of the time, there are only tough choices as options. Yet we must face the consequences of our choices and through practice learn what choices can afford. We must understand and take responsibility for our choices, yet these choices are not as simple as the difference between right or wrong. Using the desire to restrain desire is the way people make choices, but it is an unconscious moment. When we think we must restrain the darkness of human nature, it becomes a kind of desire too, but it seems more positive.
During my process of creation, I believe that contemporary jewelry should not be a final answer to a question, but an open ending, which provokes thought, awakens desire, offers potential barely perceptible.
Zihan Yang, Brooch D.H. VI
2019, sterling silver, 18K yellow gold, stainless steel (pin).
mm 50x70x35. Credits: artist
Zihan Yang, Brooch D.H. II
2019, sterling silver, stainless steel (pin), mm 68x68x32.
In your opinion, the deepest face of ourselves can be enlighten only by our ability of self-examination. What material do you use in your research process and how do you manage to give form to this idea?
ZIHAN YANG: Material is not a big focus point during my creation process, but elements, structures, and the process of creation. I use sterling silver with 18k yellow gold just because I use to work with it. For the design part, I am more focused on to create the patterns and structures by using the small elements in order to deliver my point of view.
My studio practice aims to create signs through a silent language, which consists of the repetition of many small components. My use of repetition creates a rhythm, which helps to create a sense of movement within the artwork. That rhythm moves beyond the work, and soon the silent message reverberates from the artwork to the audience.
The process of making echoes the process of self-examination. We can never fully know ourselves without constant reflection. We must continuously look and explore life the way it moves back and forth never stopping: only through this action, we can understand who we are as human beings. We start at one point, and we go to another through this action of the line: this movement is part of my design language.
My work is my journal. Art jewelry acts like a journal. The artist creates a starting point to trigger a conversation or reveal the phenomenon of our daily life in order to provoke thought. It records and summarizes every day, vents emotion, and expresses a point of view.
My work expresses the complexity of human beings; all the facets are part of who we are and the mix of who we are. We cannot ignore the negative part to only just admit the positive one because both mix and create human nature to be more dynamic and unique. Then humans continually develop and seek to be better.
Zihan Yang, Ring D.H. IV
2019, sterling silver, 18K yellow gold, 23.5 K gold foil, mm 45x55x45. Credits: artist
Is there an artist or an artistic tendency that inspires or influences you particularly?
ZIHAN YANG: Tone Vigeland’s work is extraordinarily imposing and inspires me a lot.