Throughout the duration of our current exhibition “Holy Tools!“, the blog of LA Joaillerie invites you to discover the artists participating in the exhibition. Through a tool-Portrait, discover their considerations on tools, their views on crafts and handmaking.
Lisa and Scott Cylinder first met while they were students in jewellery and goldsmithing at the Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia. Since 1988, they have been successfully co-directing their art jewellery studio while pursuing a teaching career. They live and work in Oley, Pennsylvania.
– If you were a tool?
We would be a pencil. The pencil represents everything important to us and about us. Hard and soft, additive and reductive, colorful yet capable of only writing in blacks and greys. It also represents an archaic, outmoded (by technology) tool that is still incredibly relevant to us today as makers, both as a way to put ideas on paper and as a material to incorporate in our works.
– If you were a gesture?
We suppose it would be a rumination, akin to Rodin’s «The Thinker.» Our works, at first glance, are layered with materials and design. It is upon a second glance or further study that a much deeper concept emerges. By carefully choosing objects, manipulating and reinterpreting them, we are inviting you to join in our intelligent conversation about how the objects used and the techniques employed are related and have a new and creative intent.
– What is your first or most significant memory related to tools?
For both of us, it is probably our Fathers and Grandfathers work benches. Cluttered and work worn, these images conjure up something very nostalgic and at our core as makers today.
– Which is your favorite tool and why ?
There probably isn’t just one, but relating to the previous answer, the tools that are passed down from our families that have a tie to the people that used them before us. There is a ball peen hammer that was Scott’s Grandfathers that we use almost every day. It isn’t anything special, but it is old and worn and every time we touch it, we are tied to the history of what has come before.
– Why did you choose working with our hands (and brain!) and what does it provide you ?Ours is a complicated relationship because we collaborate, so we each come to it from different backgrounds. But we met in Art School, so we met at a time when we had already established a need and a passion for making. Working with our hands was probably not a choice, but more of a need that comes from somewhere deep inside. It provides us with an outlet for our creativity and for our shared voice. There is something very primal about the need for us to make.
– How do you consider the growing importance of technologies and machines (modelisation, laser, etc..) and the vanishing of ancient know-hows? How does this affect our practice or extend our possibilities ?
We consider the technologies of the 21st Century as antithetical to the practice of Craft and of hand making. These advances certainly have their place in the world of manufacturing, medicine (prosthetics), etc., but we find that their place in the Art world is limited and cold, especially when the process is apparent. In many ways, the contemporary culture seems to thrive on short cuts and the easy way out, and these technologies enable and play into that mindset. The act of making and using tools is ancient and inherent in Man’s DNA. Technologies (3D printing, CAD,…) will eventually, in an evolutionary way, rewire the human brain away from the act of physical making. Humans will become merely machine designers and operators.
The new technology has made us, as makers, re-evaluate what we do and who we are. We feel that we are pushing back against the advances of technology and are purposefully making work that is linked to the history of hand work, both through the processes we use, and more specifically, through the objects that we choose to incorporate and the references we cite in our pieces.