What kind of stories lay hidden within everyday objects? That's the question that artist Dan Kemp of Dank Artistry asks himself when he collects old-fashioned silver spoons -- the ones decorated with patterns and floral flourishes -- which he then transforms into ornate pieces of jewelry.
Based out of Ames, Iowa, Kemp has always collected junk to make art with. But it was his frustration with a tedious job that finally prompted him to courageously plunge full-time into art and jewelry-making:
In the Spring of 2006 I quit my heartless factory job. I got so fed up with the way corporations treat human beings I threw my work boots in the river and promised myself I would never again spend my days doing something I hate. I suppose my boots are somewhere floating in the gulf by now, or perhaps mulch for a weeping willow. [..]
Instead of soulless factory work, Kemp now creates soulful, recycled pieces that draw upon the object's form and cultural history (specifically, that of spoons, knives and forks). There are pieces from the 1930s, 1950s, or the early years of Art Nouveau, hailing from collections with names like Noblesse, Michelangelo by Oneida, Avalon and more. For those of us who never gave a spoon a second glance, it's exciting to learn that so much care goes into the past and present design of these spoons. Kemp's enthusiasm for his newfound calling is utterly infectious.
Kemp relates how the stories embedded in our mundane objects is a latent inspiration and links all of humanity together in a way:
Everything around us has a story to tell and I take pride in giving my materials a second life as a piece of art. In particular the reused silverware jewelry inspires me to reflect on the materials' past life. Once at a flea market, I found an old spoon with lots of visible wear on one side of its bowl and I couldn't help wondering who owned that spoon and how many homemade meals they must have eaten with it. Moments like that remind me how awe inspiring the circular flow of energy is our universe. I hope to express this flow in all of my work.
Besides the botanic rings, there are bracelets, and some clever bell-shaped pendants (made also from hefty handles of knives).
Given today's unfortunate trend toward modern, blank-looking silverware, we think it's a great way to recycle these otherwise unwanted utensils that have so much more character. Once made for something as prosaic as feeding food into someone's mouth, now polished and bent into fantastic, decorative forms, Dan Kemp's jewelry inspires us to take a closer look at the ordinary and wonder what beauty may lie, hidden within. More over at Dan Kemp's Etsy shop and Facebook page.