The 2020 DEC graduates

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With the covid-19 pandemic currently raging around the world, this past semester was marked by a sudden interruption of our activities. The year 2020 will be one to remember for a long time, and so the 2020 cohort will remain long remembered within the jewellery school. In addition to seeing our graduates leave before their time, we had to postpone their exhibition DÉCHAINÉ.E.S, which was scheduled to take place this month. Instead, it will be held this fall, from November 25th to November 30th, at Galerie le 1040. In the meantime, we invite you to meet them all and discover what they have been up to throughout their last year at the ÉJM.

Since the entire last year of their studies was geared towards preparing these future jewellery artists to launch their careers, our graduates had the opportunity to create limited edition jewellery collections in the fall, which reveal their personal aesthetics and design preoccupations. The closing of our workshops took place while our graduates were in the middle of developing their thesis project, which consists of a triptych made up of a necklace, a bracelet and another piece of jewellery of their choice, three unique pieces through which each student can express their own visual, formal and conceptual language. These pieces have not yet seen the light of day, but everyone has nevertheless produced presentation drawings, which give us a glimpse of what will eventually be created.

 

IRIS MESDESIRS

A recent graduate of the École de joaillerie de Montréal, Iris Mesdesirs has lived many lives, in France and elsewhere, before coming to Montreal. Her love for foreign languages led her to enroll at the University of Rennes 2, where she obtained a Bachelor’s degree in International Business, and then to study in Taiwan for a year. Naturally curious minded and versatile, she pursues other activities such as painting, sewing and FX makeup. Her interest in theatre and fashion is reflected in her way of looking at jewellery. In 2019, she travels to Senegal with the organization Toolbox Travel to discover West African jewellery making.

My research revolves around a singular and hybrid aesthetic, tinged with references to the worlds of fashion, theatre and visual and media arts. I am inspired by contemporary designers such as Alexander Wang, Jean-Paul Gaultier, House of Malakai, Ron Mueck and Iris Van Herpen, as well as historical elements from medieval times (chain mail), ancient Egypt (the breastplate), Etruscan civilizations (granulation) and the Renaissance (strawberry). My jewellery summon our collective consciousness through stylistic hybridization. My pieces are anachronistic and charged with history, suggesting the avant-garde with futuristic accents, while evoking royal splendour as well as warlike or revolutionary costumes.

With a multidisciplinary approach, I combine the use of painting and construction with some traditional jewellery techniques such as wax carving and lost-wax casting. My interest in blending artistic disciplines is materialized by my use of contemporary sculpture and FX makeup techniques, notably the use of liquid latex to create a highly sculptural and transgressive jewellery mask. Rather imposing by their dimensions, my pieces are ostentatious and sensual, they arise from the body and become its extensions.

I am interested in masks as an important element in my research. It relates to theatre, fashion and the world of performance: in the idea of theatrical play, masks allow us to disguise our identity, to hide or enhance our bodies. It can restrict movement, sublimate one’ s posture or break up the body into pieces for the viewer’s delight. Thus, my quest for Beauty is embodied in pieces that one wears like jewellery vestments that extend and magnify each part of the body.

 

LUCIE HOUVENAGHEL

Lucie Houvenaghel graduated from the École de joaillerie de Montréal in 2020. She has an eclectic academic background: two years in Social Work, a Bachelor’s degree in Art History from the University of Tours, and another in Communication from the University of Nice Carlone, France. This path was punctuated by two sabbatical years, enriched by a backpacking trip focused on culture and art through South-East Asia and by an au pair experience in a family in Southern California, USA.

I am an artist whose main area of interest is jewellery. Each one of my jewellery pieces is handmade, from metal grain to the finished piece. I adapt my creations to the constraints imposed by the materials I choose and I like to bring together opposites: rigidity and flexibility, weight and lightness, opacity and transparency.

I make my jewellery with second-hand metal and I integrate found materials such as disposable plastic. This association is a perfect example of how I conceptualize my work. I need to find meaning in every step of the manufacturing process, from the harvesting of my materials to finding a new use for them.

The notion of protection is an essential and recurring theme in my work. The discomfort experienced by some people in their own bodies is a driving force behind my will to create. Just as the material imposes its constraints on me, I question the wearer as to the constraint my work places on their body. Is it a simple reminder of the object’s presence, through its weight, its shape? Is it comfortable? Or is it not?

Also, creation is a way of revealing oneself, of showing an intimate part of the self, one’s interiority, it is a way of exposing the inside to the outside, of making the intimate public. This is why my pieces are massive, protective, sheltering.

My jewellery pieces are objects, self-supporting and self-sufficient, small sculptures, which tend not to respond to any need, but rather to a desire for possession. The blurred line between utility and uselessness is a constant pursuit in my work.

 

JULIE WILLISTON

Originally from New Brunswick, Julie remains attached to her Acadian roots and to the peaceful landscapes of her motherland. Her interest in Acadian culture led her to obtain a Master’s degree in Acadian History from the Université de Moncton in 2012. In addition to jewellery, her artistic practice includes contemporary dance, sculpture and fashion. Living in Montreal since 2012, she discovered jewellery making at the Visual Arts Centre before beginning her studies at the École de joaillerie de Montréal. In 2014, she founded GunStreet Vintage and developed a taste for entrepreneurship. She is about to launch her first line of jewellery under the name Minuit (www.minuitmetal.com).

Fascinated by the history of objects, I favour the use of raw materials, those that reveal their story. I thus let my imagination build a narrative thread through various metals, gems and found objects. Using traditional jewellery and goldsmithing techniques, I create sculptures that can be worn: voluminous pieces of jewellery that reflect the light and absorb the darkness. My works provoke a dialogue between the organic forms I create in metal and the other materials I choose to integrate.

My current work explores the theory of evolution as a microcosm: how the individual adapts, transforms, and evolves over the course of a single lifetime. The accumulation of experiences forms memories, an identity and a personality specific to each human being: I am what I have been. Human experience being at the core of my artistic production, I make sure that each human interprets my work in their own way, weaving links between their own experience and the one told by the piece of jewellery.

The jewellery objects I propose share the same genetic code. The pieces create a new species, they communicate with each other, and tell a story that will be transmitted to anyone willing to listen.

 

 

LOUIS STOCK-RABBAT

Born in Montreal, Louis Stock-Rabbat completed a DEC in Social Sciences and Humanities at Dawson College, while pursuing higher-level sports activities, before undertaking studies in Sociology at Concordia University. Halfway through his studies, he decided to quit and turn to jewellery.  After being introduced to this field at the Westmount Visual Arts Centre, he joined the college program at the École de joaillerie de Montréal as a full-time student. He had just found his way. His passion for the craftsmanship and manual work required to create jewellery enabled him to realize his full creative potential and to further develop it within the jewellery industry. Today, as he explores 3D technologies, he continues to perfect his skills to better master jewellery making, the ultimate craft form.

My creations are often inspired by my Egyptian roots. This culture, which is very important to me, motivates me to push the boundaries of my jewellery while keeping the simplicity of Egyptian inspiration at the heart of my work. I am looking for shapes and patterns that can inspire me to create.  With this theme in mind, I fuse the past with the present while maintaining a unique and classic style.

My research on contemporary African-American jewellery in combination with Egyptian artefacts, led to the creation of these pieces of jewellery. They combine modern influences with classical symbols and images from ancient Egypt to create a unique and distinctive style that reflects these two rich cultures in both art and history. I like my jewellery to have a certain flare.

The wearability of jewellery is, in my opinion, an important element of contemporary American jewellery. I design wearable rather than sculptural jewellery. Simplicity of fabrication is important to me in both design and assembly.

My inspirations often come from cyberculture and I try, as much as possible, to design jewellery that can be made according to what I have in mind. With the formal simplicity of African-American culture and the richness of materials found in Egyptian culture, one can truly feel the extravagance and luxury, while recognizing my unique style.

 

ÉMILIE GAGNON

Creation is the essence of life for Émilie. As a child, she expressed herself through drawing, painting and writing. After studying cinema, theatre and anthropology, she discovered the world of jewellery through her mother. It is thanks to her mother that Émilie began to learn about the transformation of metal. After a little over two years in the continuing education program at the École de joaillerie de Montréal, Émilie decided to pursue a college education until graduating in 2020.

Architecture, sculpture and geometry are the foundation of my inspiration. The curves, symmetry and clean lines that I perceive in those elements permeate the aesthetics of the pieces I create. The complexity of technique within an aesthetic simplicity is what guides my thinking. I constantly try to push my own limits without sacrificing this aesthetic. Each piece I create is another technical challenge taken up. Behind a minimalist and clean design lies a complex and sought-after technique.

 

 

NATHALIE GROLEAU

Nathalie Groleau, a Montreal native, is a working nurse and mother of 4 children. Naturally curious and always ready to learn, she renewed her love of studying at the age of 18. Back in school, she continued to diversify her educational path. After obtaining her Bachelor’s degree in Science from the Université de Montréal, she undertook a second DEC, offered jointly by the Cégep du Vieux Montréal and the École de joaillerie de Montréal. Graduating in 2020, she proudly presents her first collection: reproductions of wearable jewellery artefacts inspired by the popular reality TV show The Curse of Oak Island, broadcast on History Channel. She has been distributing her reproduction of the lead cross throughout the United States since the summer of 2019, under her brand name Thalyna Jewelry. Inspired by what she is passionate about, whether it is related to her profession or her hobbies, she creates innovative jewellery, each piece bearing its own story.

 

The inspiration for my designs comes from the human body. Fascinated by history and by infinitely small structures, I create wearable jewellery that speaks to the person wearing it. However, I do not let any barrier or obstacle hinder what is to become a new creation. I take into consideration what appeals to people and what is likely to inspire their imagination in interpreting what they perceive in my work. I favour noble and durable materials that will not lose their value over time.

 

 

Jewellery photos: Anthony McLean

 

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