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Key to My Heart Pendant, 2010, Sterling silver precious metal clay, 1″ x 0.7″ x 0.5″
Helm Chain Maille Necklace,2009, Sterling silver 18 gauge wire, 18″ x .5″ x .1″

Pulse: When you mention “memories that bring you joy and inspiration,” what exactly do you mean by that? Could you share a specific moment? How does love and spirituality enter into your studio practice? Have you ever been in love? Are you ever not in love? How do you know? What kind of things do you make when you do not feel in love? Is love a construct? How do material objects, like your pendant, interplay with the concept of love? Is it a symbol of it? A dedication to it? A commodification of it? Something else? What was your first crush like? What is spirituality? Are these questions too personal? Do you not want to answer them? Is there such a thing as content too personal for one’s studio practice?

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Key to My Heart
Sarah A. Zoller

It’s been a few years, but I still remember it like it was yesterday. Fast paced songs like, “Shake it Up,” and “I Love Rock and Roll” were playing, and then all of a sudden the lights dimmed, the music slowed, and the DJ said, “Alright it’s couple skate time.” A slow jam like “Waiting for a Girl Like You,” really had every girl waiting for that someone special to take their hand and glide them around the rink. When I was a young teen, the roller skating rink was the main hang out, and it was a big part of the memories that I have of “falling in love.” I tap into these emotional experiences as the foundation for my jewelry designs.

In regards to my influences, I am inspired by the Ancient Egyptian symbol of the heart.  This investigation of the heart has guided me to an understanding of how symbols are a form of communication and contain elements of history.  In my work, I use the heart as a shared expression of love and a universal symbol for human passion and emotion.

My interest in the heart shape has led me to also explore the significance of the heart in contemporary art.  I explored the works of Jim Dine (b. 1935), Keith Haring (1958-1990), and Robert Williams (b. 1943) for ideas and inspiration.  These artists used the heart in their work to help us question our own feelings.  For example, Jim Dine used the heart to represent the love of his wife.  Keith Haring used the heart as a symbol to unite people for world peace.  Robert Williams used hearts as an emotional device to show human desire and love.  By representing the heart symbol in my work I aspire to present others with the opportunity to reflect on their own personal feelings.

Finally, the ambiguity and mystery surrounding the work of African-American artist, James Hampton (1909-1964), is another source of inspiration.  I was entranced when I saw The Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations’ Millennium General Assembly (1950-1964) at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.  In this installation, Hampton covered 180 objects with shimmering metallic foil as a tribute to his religious faith.  Hampton built a chapel out of discarded items from a federal office building where he had worked as a janitor.  He also included his own hieroglyphic-like writing system, thought to be based on an ancient African language, to identify aspects of the piece. The surface texture of metal and his use of symbolism appealed to me.  I wanted to invest my own metal jewelry pieces with similar feelings of awe and splendor from the viewer. It is through the study of these artists that I have explored the appearance and more importantly, emotive component in my work.

Through creating my jewelry, I found it was important for me to examine my true identity, which was the driving force behind my work.  Incorporating the heart into my designs allowed me to draw attention to my real life experiences. Overall, my work is based on what I see, hear, and most importantly what I feel.  It is how my heart and soul connect to the people and environment that surrounds me.  My work is unified by the people I meet, share with, and love.

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