Lost in the Forest
|Experienced With||Collaboration, Commissions, For-hire services, Leading workshops, Lectures, Speaking engagements, Teaching engagements|
I started literally thinking "outside the crayon box" at age 5 ...wanting to save every intriguing street find, I secretly crammed interesting things into my crayon box in hopes that my mother would not find them... leaving me with the monumental problem of where to put my crayons. Cramming, jamming, hoarding and ultimately using, justified a process that seems to be the nature of my life...outgrowing space, erasing definition and challenging mental limits...salvaging "things" and revising identity and function turned my eccentricities, compulsions and love affair with “things" into a trend that eventually named itself "going green" ...and at last legitimizing my salvaging purpose in life.
After suffering a chemical exposure accident in 1999, I was faced with the realities of altered consciousness, body and identity... stability and future were no longer the vocabulary of my life...unpredictability became the norm paving the path for my personal journey through reinvention. Florida Recycled was symbolically born through the recycling of myself not simply the recycled and salvaged materials of my work. Salvaging elements of my past and transforming them as catalysts for my future reinforced the lessons I learned throughout my years…Life can change at any moment; survival demands altered expectations, reinvention of identity and a focus on fresh possibilities. Thus unintentionally my work is a blending of my years of experiences, unconscious impressions, interesting finds and compulsive junk / treasure shopping sprees. These experiences drive the passion of my work. Deliberately integrating subliminal themes, materials of mixed quality with an array of unlikely objects, I hope to inspire interest, challenge opinions and create new perspectives. I also hope to change perceptions of value, interest and beauty using otherwise ordinary and damaged objects to an advantage creating a revised understanding of worth and appeal; such as the use of doll parts, toy flies, lizards and spiders, which many people find otherwise distasteful, become the focal curiosities of my work.
The salvaged and damaged parts and objects I use in my blend of recycled, new and used materials are introductions for the underlying theme of my work…”Broken yet functional again". Profound beauty lies in the less obviously valuable when you choose to broaden your understanding and see it that way. It is an affirmation made for the underdogs in every aspect oflife.
Simplifying all phases of the planning / thought process I essentially begin working with mixed materials until the piece takes on an identity in the process; allowing me the freedom to work in an undisciplined style. To do otherwise would compromise my infatuation for the materials, curiosity for experimentation and my need for spontaneity. I begin by blending colored objects, beads and wire using objects untypical of jewelry and otherwise unworthy of attention such as scour pads, paperclips, strands of wig hair, contemporary plastics and old hardware wire. These objects become very intriguing when entwined with free-form undisciplined wire and ‘pretty’ beads, crystal, and other interesting complimentary parts. Rather than work in precision with the wire, I allow the wire create to its destiny. Life is not afforded a precision schematic, it just simply happens and so each piece mimics the life process and too just “simply happens”. I rarely know what I am going to create when I start thus the challenge becomes salvaging and integrating the spontaneity that just occurred...so inevitably all "bloopers" are integral and become part if the finished piece. I use no toxic glues, solders, and solvents in the process.
The life-death message is predominantly a central statement of my work. My interest in death is not as literal as the skulls and bones might outwardly suggest but in the life and rebirth. Life is opportunistic transitional and an eternal process. Nothing is really “dead” as much as it is reborn into another version, making the stage of life continual / eternal and death non-existent if you choose to understand it in that way. I conclude death is the ultimate recycling / cleansing…not an end as much as a beginning …a blank canvas so to speak and the passageway for the next existence. Nothingness, voids, gaps and finales are the catalysts for creation. I create images of new life in the presence of past life through images of flowering skulls and bones. I guess if we understand it that way, deleting our mortal emotions and expectations, then it is really a message of continuation, second chances and hope.
However, my belief in a positive future is really much of what I am trying to say: ‘loss, new beginnings, transformation and hope’ in fresh versions. Being raised by two Holocaust survivors was the ultimate lesson in tragedy, survival and rebirth and that prepped me for a lifetime of necessary idealistic beliefs.
I recognize on completion of each piece that I have made a statement not always intentionally since much of my work unavoidably has unconscious underlying messages / statements of my own understanding and experiences. It is when you view closely that you find the eclectic objects that comprise the piece are subordinate to the objects typically used in jewelry. The overall visual appeal releases old ideas and perceptions of what jewelry should be made of.
My work transitioned from jewelry to wearable art to 3-dimensional freestanding pieces. The transition to larger pieces simply occurred as result of not knowing when to stop. Liking the things I created, I wanted to put them on everything everywhere. Simplifying the assignment of explaining the cosmic meaning and expansion of my work, I modestly and purely declare that I just really like to create "pretty things to look at and wear".
In spite of the underlying meaning, people of all ages describe my pieces as “funky and fun”. Whether the viewer recognize the message or not, I have succeeded if they understand otherwise ordinary objects with an accepting and new perspective…being able to “course correct” and redefine beauty, worth and functionality, the lessons learned from my life, predominantly drive the passion of my work.. Reinvention of self, worth and beauty sometimes surfaces in versions that are far more interesting than the original…it is the life message I try to convey through the materials I use.
412-298-2136 Studio / Cell
Pittsburgh, PA 15221
5831 Ellsworth Avuenue
Pittsburgh 15232 PA
I currently work in Juvenile Detention and have commited my work to the rehabilitation of at-risk polulatoins to include seniors, autistic, disbled and at-risk youth. I work on a state and natinal level teaching art and jewelry design.
I am a member of the Associated Artists of Pittsburgh, The Pittsburgh Craftsmens Guild and the Pittsburgh Society of Artists
Further info can be found on google search:
"Gerry Florida Pittsburgh Jewelry Artist" or "Gerry Florida Enough Violence Shuman Center"
If you interested in programs for your organization, I can be contacted directly at:
firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-298-2136 Studio Cell
Web Link to National Partnership on Juvenile Services / Bio