LoveToKnow welcomed jewelry artist Margaux Lange for an interview about her unique jewelry designs. Lange creates necklaces, earrings, bracelets, rings and brooches with Barbie doll parts. Her controversial jewelry inspires a range of reactions from admiration to astonishment. This interview introduces you to the artist and the message behind her art.
About Margaux Lange's Unique Jewelry Designs
Margaux Lange was first introduced to jewelry making in high school and went on to receive a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Maryland Institute College of Art.
Lange describes her decision to become a jewelry designer as a way of "getting art off the wall and onto the body so that it can be more intimately shared, experienced and quite literally felt."
Based in Brooklyn, New York, Lange offers a line of handmade jewelry, the "Plastic Body Series," that takes different parts of Barbie or Ken's anatomy and incorporates it into wearable art. She has worked as a studio jeweler designing the Plastic Body Series since her graduation from college in 2001.
Margaux Lange Interview
LoveToKnow talks with Margaux Lange about her work with Barbie and her creative process.
LTK: Describe the first Barbie jewelry piece you created. Did you know immediately that you would create an entire jewelry line made out of Barbie doll parts?
ML: Barbie made her debut in my artwork in high school and then again in various incarnations throughout college. I was interested in combining alternative materials and/or found objects into my metalwork. Because I had done drawings and sculptures with Barbie in the past, it felt natural to try her out in the jewelry realm.
The first piece in the series was a pair of Barbie doll Hand Earrings. It seemed the most obvious at the time - 2 hands, 2 ears. Viola!
LTK: Your artist statement mentions how a lifelong love of Barbie and her influence on contemporary culture inspires your imagination. How was the concept of the "Plastic Body Series" born?
ML: While it is my fine art background that has given me the foundation necessary for conceptual exploration in my jewelry work, it is my personal experience - a childhood spent obsessed with Barbie and her miniature world - that I credit for the success of this series. Barbie was immensely important in fueling my creative life as a child, not to mention developing my dexterity, a skill imperative to jewelry making. It's ironic that what I adored as a child has become the focus of my career as an adult. I was particularly interested in women's issues, gender studies and representations of the female body in art. Jewelry, a form of adornment predominantly associated with women and displayed directly on the body, seemed a natural format for my work in exploring these subjects. In combination with my lifelong adoration for Barbie - the ultimate female icon - a series of jewelry art was born. The queen of accessorizing became the accessory. I like to say I "re-Member" Barbie fondly.
LTK: Walk us through your creative process.
ML: My design process varies a lot from piece to piece. Sometimes there's a story-line to my work and I'll have a particular idea I wish to explore, depending on the doll parts being used and that will serve as the core concept that shapes the piece. Other times it's purely about design and arranging shapes and patterns within the multiple body elements. Sometimes it's both.
LTK: The Daily Mail mentioned that you are "fascinated with who she(Barbie) is as a cultural icon" and enjoy "the irony of using Barbie - whose miniature clothes and jewelry sell in their millions - as an accessory." How do you feel about Barbie's impact on women and society? What does your jewelry say about Barbie and women?
ML: I started referring to myself as a feminist at the age of 15 - a feminist who grew up loving Barbie. My experience with her personally was a positive one. I believe that her influence on children is much too complex an issue to simply condemn as destructive.
I see Barbie predominantly as a toy and a tool, and in the hands of a child, she can be a source of exploration and imagination. However, that's not to say there's nothing to examine regarding Barbie as an ideology.
My work often utilizes the doll as a symbol for critiquing and rejecting prescribed roles associated with women in our society. The concepts behind my designs constantly change and evolve. Sometimes I aim to distance myself and critique pop culture and other times I want to engage and participate in it.
LTK: Bust magazine described your art concept as provoking "nostalgia, fascination and even disgust." You also mention in your blog that people frequently call your art, "creepy but cool." How do you feel about people's various reactions to your work?
ML: If there's one thing I've discovered during my eight years working in this series, it's that everyone has a unique reaction and relationship with Barbie. The range of responses I get to my work excites and interests me and is a major part of why I continue to explore Barbie as my subject matter.
I love that everyone brings his or her own baggage and reaction to the work. It's indicative of their own feelings about the doll, as well as what defines "wearable" jewelry. My goal has been to create art that a broad range of people can relate to.
LTK: Your jewelry incorporates many issues such as gender, humor and even romance. What do you hope people will see in your art?
ML: My hope is that people will recognize the work's humor, wit and silly irony just as much as it's conceptual dimensionality. There are various levels one can read into any given piece in the series and that's part of the fun. I believe good art is meant to engage and I think (or hope) I've been successful with this. You cannot wear a piece of my jewelry without expecting a response. It invites conversation.
LTK: What are your future plans for your handcrafted jewelry?
ML: I have started working on a new jewelry collection that involves a different exploration of "body elements" without the use of Barbie dolls. Not sure where it will lead just yet… stay tuned.
Where to Purchase Margaux Lange's Jewelry
Margaux's Lange's unique jewelry designs will appeal to many different types of jewelry shoppers. There's something for the fashionista, the pop culture humorist, the Barbie collector and the feminist in her collection.
Lange's jewelry can be purchased online and from a number of art galleries and stockists both in the US and in Europe. You can buy limited edition and production jewelry online directly from the artist at her Etsy Shop.
Here are the websites of Lange's stockists who sell her one-of-a-kind jewelry designs:
For More Information
For more information about Margaux Lange, please visit the artist's website, Margauxlange.com and her blog Midge's Mind. You can also read the articles mentioned in the interview at Bust and the Daily Mail websites.Thank you to Margaux Lange for taking the time to talk to LoveToKnow.
By Adrienne Warber