Macedonian artist Mima Pejoska describes herself as an introvert, dreamer and maker, but above all.... always curious to shift our perception to find the hidden layers of things around us.
I recently sat down with her to discuss her incredible artistic journey and The Wanderers- her latest project currently making waves in the artistic world.
"I get chills when I smell Turkish coffee in the morning, and I cannot stop working when I feel I've reached a new concept for my works. I like traveling and observing, and especially learning how people around the world experience things differently... like enjoying sunsets or treat meals", she tells me in her cozy atelier in downtown Skopje.
Born and raised in Skopje, Macedonia, Mima's work has been praised all around the world. She discovered her love for the crafts quite early in her life and has developed herself as an artist in Italy, Germany and the USA.
"Each new study and place thought me how to approach art differently. My academic path started with Ethnology and Anthropology, continued with Design Thinking and finally mastering Jewelry and Objects at the end... but sure enough all of it circled around my passion for making and creating, and helped me define my skill set and its use. I think this is what mainly defines me as an artist - exploring and presenting the other aspect of things... being interested in what else lies beneath the obvious", she says, as she shows me her incredible artwork", she continues.
What is jewelry to you? How would you describe your relationship with it?
My relationship with it is turbulent, exotic and one that is constantly evolving. Jewelry has been a major focus in my life for years now... regardless of the fact that I keep changing styles and techniques, develop new points of view in every phase in order to capture a new value or interest.
At first, jewelry for me meant craft. I was a student in Macedonia and was extremely interested in the filigree craft as part of our tradition, as a cultural element. When I started crafting jewelry on my own, I started seeing it and treating it as form and design... and later on as a MFA student at Savannah College of Art and Design (department of Jewelry and Objects) - I entered a new phase, jewelry became so much more than simply added aesthetics on the body. My mind and perception opened up, and jewelry became everything: craft, art, academic research, performance, communication, status, business, bodily and conceptual...
What do you want to show with your work (jewelry collections and your conceptual projects?)
Every piece or collection reflects on a specific train of thoughts of mine... or a specific interest. The filigree technique, traditional craft in Macedonia, had my attention the longest at the beginning of my career. Created in delicate, lace-looking structures, it offered so many possibilities and forms that would decorate the body. For a long time after I started crafting jewelry, I was excited about creating wearable objects that were design statements on their own. Sometimes the material and its possibilities is my focus and what I want to show. I get inspired and excited when I come across a new material I haven't explored till then. Sometimes that material is something so common... but one that I've suddenly looked at with new eyes. Rice, saran wrap, cable stoppers or even dogs hair can be found in my pieces - completely transformed not resembling their natural look.
Other times, I take my time, build a concept, do research... explore and go deep into one idea. The Stories of the Three Wanderers (2015-2016) is an open-ended project meant to unveil various perspectives of relationships we build with each-other, through or with objects that surround us. It is constructed to be a travel log of three jewelry pieces, that will wander the world for 1 year, from host to host, and collect experiences, stories and adventures.
How did you come up with the idea about the jewelry pieces that travel the world?
Regardless of our awareness, all things we interact with come with a previously embedded emotion or story, that affects our relationship with it. This travel log will aim to explore all of these connections: maker - wearer, past wearer - present wearer, object - person. The work itself is the journey of the pieces, changing context and environments, reflecting on host's personality, behaviors, routines. All of the experiences (documented with writings, photographs or videos that hosts will share) from each 'visit' will be collected and regularly published online as a digital diary, presenting how each host adds value and meaning to these little works of art.
The Wanderers are chosen to be completely different in their appearance, history, value and origin: one is designer's piece - made by myself; one is an antique button from a traditional folk dress; and the third is a cheap store bought piece of jewelry... Each piece will travel a separate path, and is planned to stay for a few days up to a week in every location, creating a unique travel log by connecting all hosts. In this project, instead of making jewelry pieces with embedded concept or idea... I focus on existing ones - The Wanderers (the three jewelry pieces) that will explore and show how value and meaning of work is relative, personal and variable.
How do you envision these connections that the jewelry will help create?
Think of a piece that has been handed to you by a loved one or close family member. It was probably given with love and affection, and each time you wear it you'll think of that person. What if it was a present from a loved one that passed away? The emotional value of the work changes in a second... and we give it a new meaning. Now think how this can continue in a string of emotions that will be given to the piece by each new wearer. This same work sent from Macedonia, to a person in Cataula GA to 'stay' with an amazing family... and than passed on to another 'host' in Lebanon? The Wanderers are meant to pass on stories, emotions and adventures like these and awaken us to see their history. Each of us will handle it individually, and each of us with use it uniquely... different stories will be created in different context.
Does this project have a specific audience or can anyone join?
Absolutely everyone is welcome to join the journey, and to receive some of the Wanderers to wear and keep for a short stay. All details, registration as well as the journal of the travel so far can be found at www.thewanderers.mk. This project is open until September 2016.
I'm excited and impatiently awaiting every new story as they unveil. It is even more beautiful not knowing what to expect for an entire year of such adventures. The three pieces are all currently in the States... and makes me happy that there is already a waiting list for all of them from interested people who want to share an adventure with them. The list of countries where they are planed to travel goes from Germany, Brazil, Mexico, Spain, Macedonia, Finland. Israel....
Tell me about your favorite work so far?
My absolute favorite is The Sensibles (2013), a collection was created around the topic of tactility and the beauty that lies in our sense of touch. The idea started from pondering about all the possible ways to enjoy art works... and how much is being missed from the lack of involvement of our tactile sense.
I believe that our sense of touch has a enormous role in every way we interact and experience things around us... to enhance the sensation, to trigger our imagination or to tackle us to imagine how something might feel and even tickle our skin. This was what I was exploring with the Sensibles - creating jewelry that triggers tactile sensations in various ways.
The pieces were not the only part of the concept that needed to be created as tactile. Unlike most museums and galleries that have signs "Please don't touch the Artwork!", I have decided my exhibition to do the exact opposite. The Sensibles collection was presented in a empty white gallery in Savannah, Georgia... where all 150 pieces of sensible jewelry works were hanging from 150 transparent helium balloons floating around the space. The movement of the balloons made the atmosphere alive... and with each balloon movement the pieces followed and were touching the visitors, 'flirting' or waiting for someone to touch them while it is in the air. The materials and techniques for the jewelry pieces were carefully chosen to invite people's touch. Rice, silk, crochet stainless steel... all delicately treated, implied on a certain level of fragility and tenderness, and with their unhurried moves up in the air were inviting approach with the same level of softness. Other pieces, made with silicone and with skin looking soft surface, were meant to stick to the visitors skin if they pass by it... and some pieces were deceiving with their looks showing off as gentle and light while later surprising with their roughness or heavy form. On the contrary of the expected and usual, the message of the event was 'Please DO touch the artwork'.
Why do you consider the field of adornment so special?
It's special if we make it such, as everything else. I don't think of it as more important field than others, but it is the one I have chosen to be my language.
Every single thing that surrounds us, that we use daily, that we worship or neglect... every thing has layers and layers of stories to tell. Stories that reflect the period in which it was made, personal stories of the maker.... needs or trends of the society at the moment it was crafted and so on. All of this is part of objects, whether we see it or not. It's what created the energy behind pieces, and what I think is important to show. Handmade, garbage or serial production, pieces that we place on our body create intimate relationships with the wearer. We add them on us to show part of our vision of what beauty is; to show part of our past or simply to be close to something that means something to us.
When I see my works being worn, I see how the story that began with my making of the piece... continues to grow or to be altered by the new owner.