Jeweler Aliyah Gold creates wild animal art jewelry that reveals the inner beauty of animals. The animals retain a certain life in her jewelry that creates a narrative between jeweler, art, and the person who wears the piece.
Jeweler Aliyah Gold
Aliyah Gold graduated with a Master of Fine Arts from the Metals program at State University of New York (SUNY) at New Paltz, New York in 2010. She also holds Bachelor of Fine Arts in Crafts with a concentration in Jewelry from The University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She has experience teaching jewelry design and metalsmithing, and her work has been shown in a number of exhibitions throughout the country.
Wild Animal Art Jewelry Interview with Aliyah Gold
Aliyah Gold creates a variety of unique pieces, ranging from a fairy tale theme collection to wild animal art jewelry. Learn more about her art.
Introduction to Jewelry Design
LoveToKnow (LTK): What led to your interest in jewelry design? When did you decide to become a jeweler?
Aliyah Gold (AG): I was lucky enough to have a jewelry course offered at my high school, and it was there that I fell in love with the techniques involved in making jewelry. The teacher must have noticed my interest, because at the end of the year, I was given an award for my performance in the class. Being recognized for the work I had done during the year gave me the confidence to think that perhaps this was what I was meant to do.
Jewelry Style and Techniques
LTK: How would you describe your jewelry design style?
AG: Each piece I make seems so different to me. Overall, I suppose that within my work there is an organic element, whether it is the material or the animal that is depicted.
LTK: What type of techniques and materials do you commonly use in jewelry design?
AG: In most of my work, I use natural materials such as wood, leather, or snakeskin. In older work, the reason for my material choice was due to my comfort with working in such material. In my most recent body of work, I began to be more conscious of my material choice. The more aware I became of a material's prior history of use, [the more] I was able to understand that it is imbedded with cultural meanings and associations. I therefore chose to investigate my materials both historically and structurally in order to use them to their fullest potential. I am also drawn to the techniques involved with metal work like chasing, fabricating, riveting.
LTK: Many of your jewelry designs can be interpreted as statements. Do you see this as the case?
AG: When I come up with an idea, I never see it as a statement. This is often because I am unsure of my opinion on a certain subject and create the piece as a way of exploring more behind the issue. I think it is interesting when people see a clear statement in the work and wonder if their opinion is influencing their view.
LTK: How did your experience at the State University of New York, New Paltz shape your jewelry design style and techniques?AG: I feel like my work has undergone a huge change due to my time in New Paltz. Before graduate school, my work had been extremely narrative. Working with Jamie Bennet and Myra Mimlitsch-Gray helped me come to the realization that subtly implying a narrative within a piece of jewelry can often have more impact on both the wearer and the viewer. Another huge shift in the way I work was that I began to be more confident about fabricating in metal.
LTK: Please describe your beehive jewelry collection, which included the Swarm necklace, bee earrings, and beehive brooches.AG: The original thought behind my beehive pieces was that I wanted to make the wearers of my work active participants in the narratives I created. By wearing a piece of my jewelry, I wanted someone to engage in a power struggle between herself and the creature rendered.
For the beehive pieces, I took advantage of the preconceived associations we often have toward bees, and I tried to exploit them. In hindsight, I realize that the tension is actually created for the viewer, not the wearer, as the pieces are light since they are mostly made of leather and do not constrict the body.
Animal Art Jewelry Collection
LTK: You created many unique and gorgeous pieces made out of natural materials for your MFA Fine Arts Exhibition. Could describe your goal for the MFA jewelry pieces?AG: I wanted to try to be more strategic with my materials, so I decided to focus on materials from animals. Materials from animals intrigue me because they maintain the resemblance of the animal from which they were removed. Using animal-based material does not strike a moral nerve within me as it might with someone in favor of animal rights. This lack of personal sentiment toward the material was the motivation behind my attempt to strategically use the material, in order to associate it back to the animal from which it originated while also exploring its resonance. Aside from wanting to identify the material with its past existence as a living animal, my aim was to structurally understand the material and to use it to its fullest potential within the jewelry format.
Fairy Tale Jewelry Collection
LTK: Your 2006-2008 jewelry collection is inspired by classic fairy tales. Could you describe the collection and the type of materials and techniques used?AG: In 2006, myself and two other jewelers, Yoko Tazaki and Monika Krol, were given a show at Art Star, a gallery/ boutique in Philadelphia. The three of us decided to investigate our ideas of royalty. I chose to portray portions of fairy tales, as this was my first introduction to the idea of royalty as a child. Most of the pieces are either carved wood or pyrography drawings on leather. I also used mostly stainless steel for the metal structural elements, because at the time, I had access to a laser welder, which works really well on stainless steel. Within every piece, there is a gold element, which I used to draw attention to specific aspects in the piece.
Behind the Jewelry
LTK: What do you hope people will see in your art jewelry?
AG: It is important for me that the ideas behind my jewelry are easily accessible. I make no claim to be a conceptual artist, but I always endeavor to have content in my work. So to me, the greatest achievement is when someone can understand and appreciate the transformation the material has gone through and what that transformation implies about the larger narrative created.
Advice for Aspiring Jewelry Artists
LTK: Do you have any advice for aspiring jewelers who want to pursue a Master of Fine Arts?AG: You want to make sure that the program you choose is a good fit for how you work. I think I was able to grow as an artist at SUNY New Paltz because the way I worked and my interests in jewelry were comparable to those of my teachers. I would also say not to be so focused only on jewelry that you miss out on taking classes in other areas, as they can influence your work.