Stefanie Victor

My ongoing project of metal sculptures called Sculptures for Margaret is named for the jewelry designer Margaret De Patta. De Patta’s studio jewelry in the 1960s and 70s engaged a dialog between fine art, design, and craft, through pieces informed by Constructivist ideals and her Chicago Bauhaus education. This project responds to her work by combining materials associated with jewelry and allusions to wearability, with references to contemporaneous 60s and 70s minimal and environmental sculpture, as well as to playground equipment, tableware, toys, hardware, headware, etc. That is, my sculptures are as informed by histories of abstraction in fine art and craft as they are by the circumstance and the rhythms of my day-to-day life.

Sized for domestic spaces like a bookshelf or windowsill, their small scale refers to objects we see, touch, own, and live with in our homes. My approach to the installation of my work seeks to invoke this domestic context by reflecting my own relationship to it and encouraging viewers to have their own private, close encounters. More recently, I’ve sought to broaden these possibilities by directly anchoring pieces in walls and corners, considering how they might relate to – or disrupt – a room.

I’ve recently also returned to working with cloth, a medium I had explored before working with metal. These new pieces, made of dark cloth that has been partly dyed and then bleached, serve as both a support and foil to the sculptures. Placed underneath a sculpture, the fabric might refer to the functionality of a tablecloth save for the particularity of its arrangement. A closer look might reveal uneven edges and subtle color shifts produced by the unusual way they are bleached and dyed. On their own, the cloths might be closer to a folded, tactile painting.

There is a particular kind of intimacy that develops between me and my pieces over the course of working on them. My process is slow and deliberative. Decisions are hinged on striking the right balance between something that looks familiar and something unknown. I try to find forms which feel ‘right’ at their scale – objects that are neither models for something larger nor ever truly functional or wearable. I am closely involved in every stage of the making of my work, and I continue to study metalsmithing in order to fabricate each sculpture by hand.

Jewelry and metal ornament more broadly have historically played a significant role in commemorating personal ritual, and they still do today. Jewelry has an emotional symbolism and degree of sentimentality that is rarely associated with contemporary art. Fabric is something we wear and touch, wash and fold. My work harbors these references in a gesture to shift the often removed viewer-art relationship towards a more personal owner-object one, towards something more intimate.