Holland Houdek


Disconnected intervertebral segment (Spinal disc replacement)
collana, necklace
rame lavorato a mano, 390 cristalli Swarovski, patina
hand fabricated copper, pierced, 390 Swarovski crystals, bead-blasted, patina, 35 x 15 x 8 cm

Gioielli in Fermento 2018

Holland Houdek | United States

“This series focuses on medical implants, the body, and embodied experience. These hand-fabricated objects glorify the highly individual and personal nature of prosthesis and surgeries, while speaking both to the fragile nature of the human form and the memento mori genre for the contemporary age. Using real medical implants as inspiration, I have re-invented and exaggerated these devices for imagined bodies. The intention is for viewers to consider their own physicality and to visualize the absent anatomies implied by the work.”

“Un lavoro mirato sui dispositivi medicali, sul corpo e sull’esperienza connessa. Questi oggetti fabbricati a mano celebrano il carattere profondamente individuale delle protesi e degli interventi chirurgici, parlando sia alla fragilità della natura umana sia al memento mori dell’età contemporanea. Utilizzando strumenti reali come ispirazione, ho re-inventato e esagerato questi dispositivi per corpi immaginati. L’intenzione è suggerire all’osservatore di considerare la propria fisicità e di visualizzare le anatomie assenti evocate dall’opera.”

Gioielli in Fermento 2018

Gioielli in Fermento 2018 Momento privato e socialità Private time and social interaction

I use traditional jewelry and metalsmithing techniques and tools—including hammers, anvils, torches, saws, punches, etc.—in order to speak to the historical lineage of the jewelry and metalsmithing field, while also striving to create works that are contemporary and which push the boundaries of what is commonly viewed as “craft.” I strive to find a balance between technical precision, aesthetic appeal, and conceptual depth in all of my work, while drawing on the history of the memento mori tradition and crossing boundaries into sculptural forms.

There is a certain intimacy and sense of personal ownership in this personal making process that is important to me. Since my implants are objects conceptually intended for the body, I believe it is crucial that I use my hands to physically make them. Most pieces begin as simple copper sheets and tubes that I fabricate into the works that you can see on my website. The majority of the pieces have thousands of stone settings, elaborate piercings that I create with a jeweler’s saw, and a lot of fabrication. Each piece takes months to construct and I have set over 40,000 stones in the thirty-two pieces in “Hyperbolic (Implants Series III)” alone. In case you could not tell, soldering is my true passion. I am my most happy and content with one torch in my hand, even happier with two, and I welcome a third when I need it. My students are often shocked when they see me wielding three torches at a single time!

My colleagues, fellow artists, friends, and family often wonder why I “torture” myself with all of the stones stetting, intricate piercing, and elaborate labor that I put into my work. But for me, I find the making process to be meditative and even necessary. I get in the zone when I am behind my bench, and it gives me great satisfaction knowing all the hours of thought, planning, and hand fabrication that goes into each piece, and I find it incredibly rewarding each time a new piece is done.

Another thing that aids in my process is Medical research. Whether I am researching information on basic human anatomy, infections, disease, cancer, or medical terminology and procedures, I frequently speak with professionals in the medical community and do my own research online and through various books. I use these investigations to determine how I make each piece and how to title them, as I try to be as true to anatomical correctness and scientific terminology as I can. I am also invested in carrying forth the jewelry and metalsmithing traditions, and in expanding the visibility and scope of the craft movement, and so I am constantly trying to work at the intersections of tradition and innovation.

Creating the “Hyperbolic Series,” as well as the four other Implants Series and my newly emerging series “Instrumental,” has taught me so much as an artist both technically and conceptually, and I look forward to continuing the conversation and pushing the craft movement into the future.

The two series linked below were created at the prestigious John Michael Kohler Arts/Industry Residency Program in Sheboygan, Wisconsin in the spring of 2015. Accepted artists are granted access to all the Kohler facilities, including their entire iron foundry and various other resources.

“Ox(ss)is(id)ification (Implants Series V)”


“Mechanization (Implants Series IV)”




Gioielli in Fermento – Concorso 2018

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