Raïssa Bump | Seeing the Familiar
May 24 – June 19, 2014
‘Likenesses depend on the transformations an artist sets in motion: consider the way in so many of these pieces, hardness is worked into flexibility, opacity is made to reveal a hidden clarity, how a cut-out, petal-like design suggests an abundant offering of flowers, and then, step back a bit – even the spaces between the blooms themselves form airy bouquets. The emotional qualities of materials, too, might be expressed by way of metaphor: in Raïssa Bump’s hand, a brooch can be complex, nuanced, full of lively contradictions like the best conversationalists — both open and self-contained, inviting and sharp. Spend time engaging (brooch or person) and it’s clear: what’s just below the surface unexpectedly asserts. What’s on top, unveils itself slowly. The urbane has its rough spots; that which is raw, its elegance.’
– excerpted from On the Poetry of Likeness: Raïssa Bump by Lia Purpura, 2014.
About the Artist
Raïssa Bump studied jewelry at Rhode Island School of Design and Alchimia School of Contemporary Jewelry under Giampaolo Babetto. She has been exhibiting her jewelry for over ten years and is skilled at making both intricate one-of-a-kind pieces and beautiful edition collections–all of which speak to her interest in wearable arts, textiles & textile techniques and slow & methodical handwork. Raïssa is a keen observer of her environment, very curious and enjoys adventure–her jewelry is a reflection of this. She collages together her observations into pieces that are bold from a distance, yet draw you in, ask you to look closer and notice subtle details or how light coruscates across surfaces.
‘I have been interested in quilts and the scalloped motif for as long as I can remember. This attraction fascinates me. This fascination leads me to ask what is the source of attraction. Is it my interest that leads me to what I see or is it seeing that leads me to what I am interested in? The answer to me is unknown. Objects, patterns or specific landscapes grab me. It is as if they are demanding that I pay special attention to them. It is as if they are demanding that I be a part of a particular story. A beautiful essay Recurrences/Concurrences by Lia Purpura put words to subtle alignments and overlaps of seeing. She writes, “What about this: these moments of recurrence/concurrence are not messages fluttering toward, bearing secrets, but stories in which we are part of the telling. We are, for a spell, of the path where shape forms, where flux assembles, briefly, a center. / And there are so many centers” (27). Amongst the many stories with centers I notice that I find myself in one repeatedly.
Part of my attraction to the quilt and scallop motif lies in their ability to trigger memories. They represent a collection of memories of places that I have lived and visited. The memories are repetitive, layered, abstract, and representational. They encompass observations and convergences that have occurred in surprising and ordinary situations. Examples include clouds taking shape, mountain ranges, waves rolling onto the beach, sand rippled by the wind, flower petals overlapping, shells collected, sacred geometry, farmland from above, snowflakes, a friend’s painting, tin ceilings, architectural details & gates, shingled roofs, beaded dresses & purses, lace collars, edging of stationary, the quatrefoil, or podcasts listened to and essays read. These map a trail across the country and speak to me about time and place. Together the quilt and the scalloped motif feel familiar, comfortable and can carry a numinous quality. I am part of their story.
I see my current jewelry as an investigation into this story. I began by choosing two very classic quilting patterns that to me incorporate the scallop: the ‘double wedding band’ and the ‘kaleidoscope hexagon.’ I considered my long list of observations. I let the improvisation take shape. My hand creates in ways it knows well, gravitating towards the layering of elements, pierced metal and materials that could be shiny or matte, precious or mundane. New relationships are formed through arrangement, shifting scale, and the dialogue between positive and negative shape. New ways of seeing the familiar occur.
Questions still remain as to the source of my attraction. Why do I notice these shapes? Is it a quilts’ symbolic capacity that makes it continuously pleasing to me?
I realize that tension and paradox are behind my attraction to these subjects, along with how they look. The visual aspect of what I am drawn to could be described as ornate. But like the quatrefoil imbues this ‘fanciness’ of which I speak, historically it has also demanded skill and craftsmanship to create. The making of quilts is intricate and precise work, yet is a result of innately humble need and function, histories passed down through generations. These attractions are vast and varied yet encompass clear similarities that unite them as symbols of time and place.
Whatever all the reasons for my attraction, I do not see it as serendipitous. It feels deeper than that, like a fact, clear and with reason, even if the reason is unknown. It is as if there is a deeper meaning causing me to see this particular unity in such varied places and experiences. Calling me to be part of their story and allowing me to open myself to create this work—the result connects me to memory, nature, objects and the people around me.’