Marit Van Heumen
Very happy to share the interdisciplinary work of Marit Van Heumen, whose installations and sculptures are an extension of a fashion sensibility -- jewelry in particular. We chat about the relationship between those fields of design and art, and about her education, and how she researches. More at the links below!
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Can you introduce yourself?
I am originally from The Netherlands, and currently living and working in Berlin, Germany. In the Netherlands I studied jewelry design at the art academy in Maastricht, which I find is important to mention in order to understand my work and my fascination with the human body. After finishing my studies, I moved to Berlin to continue my work there. After finishing art school, it was important for me to be in a different environment to truly further develop myself and find my position as an artist.
You attended Amsterdam Fashion Institute, and then Maastricht Academy of Fine Arts and Design. How has your education shaped what you do?
I started studying design at a very young age, before even knowing what was possible in this field. This gave me the ability to try out quite a few different directions in design. At Amsterdam Fashion Institute I studied branding, which was about developing concepts for specific target groups. Even though I only studied there for one year, I learned I lot about communicating a concept to a target group, writing, and visual language. This is also important when working as an independent artist. After one year I switched to the art academy because I missed physically working with materials and actually making something. At the jewelry department, I discovered my fascination for the human body and the interaction with objects and space.
What are three words you would use to describe your work?
I would describe my work as a research. The objects I make show a research about the human body, objects and space. Instead of giving any concrete answers, I like to raise questions with my work. Body-related also is an important term in my work. As well as the words function and non-function. I find it interesting to research the importance of function within an object -- what it means to the identity of an object, and what happens with our interaction towards the object when the function is changed.
You're interested in the form of the body, and different ways of exploring how other form works on it, such as jewelry. But you also describe your work as performative, in which the body interacts with the space around it. Can you elaborate on this a bit? What first interested you in pursuing this idea?
I like to discover the stories that can exist by making changes in our interactions with objects and spaces, and by making changes in their placement and proportion.
The research in the relationship between the human body, products, and space is the central element in my work. It inspires me to see how objects obtain meaning due to their link with space, and how an object tells us by its design, how its meant to be used. The latter I researched with my graduation project: "the human body is a cliché." Within this project, I was fascinated by the recognition we unconsciously search for when seeing an unknown object. We tend to compare our human measurements with the measurements of the object to find its function and to be able to give it a place. So within this work, with the idea of "performative," I am talking about the interaction the objects raise by the viewer. I challenged the human body in a different interaction with objects.
What kind of research or preparation do you do before or in the process of making your work?
I always look around me, visit exhibitions, read books and magazines, and collect things that inspire me. These can be images, materials, shapes, colors, words etc. When I lay these together, I can make connections and describe what interests me about it in order to develop a concept.
What is your process like? Do you work intuitively, or plan in advance?
I work very intuitively when I start working on a new project. I like to be surrounded with a lot of materials and other things I collected when I work. When I start a project, I make a lot of studies with materials, images, and shapes, and later place everything together. Then I start analyzing what I have done, what I find interesting, and why and how things fit together to create a concept. I start to plan more, the further I get towards the final work. I prefer starting a project over finishing one. When starting a project, it doesn’t have to be anything yet and I can work more freely without taking into account what is even possible and what is not.
How would you describe your studio or workspace?
At the moment I am in-between workspaces, so it is quite messy and unorganized. Before, I shared a studio with a friend at KAOS in Berlin. It is an old industrial hall with fully equipped wood and metal workshops where all different artists, who are working in different fields, have their own workspace. I prefer working in a communal workspace because of the interaction with the other artists. It's good the be able to talk about your work with other creatives. For now I am planning to move to a workspace closer to my home.
What is the best advice you've ever received so far?
I am not sure if it is the best advice, but for me definitely good advice. It’s some advice that was given by one of my teachers at the art academy. Durf eigenwijs te zijn. I don’t think there is an exact translation of the words in English, but for me its about daring to do what I think is best, despite certain rules or expectations.
Who do you admire?
I actually enjoy visiting graduation shows. I think students work very experimental and try out a lot of things to find new angles. In graduation shows I often see interesting angles I haven’t thought about or other ways of translating a certain subject.
What do you feel is the most challenging thing about pursuing art, either creatively or professionally, especially as a relatively recent graduate?
Art school is a very safe environment. I found it quite challenging to go from that safe environment into the real world and be actually be working as an artist, and all things that come to it that can’t be taught in school. I spend quite some time requisitioning my approach and artistic processes in order to truly further develop my vision to find my position as an artist.
What are you working on right now?
Right now I am working on a project for the Coda Museum in The Netherlands. Different jewelry artists work individually on a collection, and these collections will be exhibited together in a traveling exhibition. Our individual projects all are inspired by other cultures.
Also, I am continuing my research concerning the placement of objects, because I find it interesting to see how the function of an object is connected to its placement. I am researching what happens with the identity of an object when I change the connection between placement and object.
Anything else you would like to add?
Thank you for reading!
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