steven KP | over, onto itself
At first glance the elegant wooden jewelry by American artist steven KP (he/they) appears to be just that. Yet these lyrical objects must also be read as metaphors for the queer lived experience. Although not readily apparent upon an initial viewing, their graceful, meticulously carved gestures denote a need among queer people to pass as conventional to be safe, just as the jewelry actually passes between spaces via their flowing lines which, nonetheless, remain stationary—thus symbolizing stable queer relationships and dependencies—each self-reliant as it loops around and folds over, onto itself.
The nature of wood and its inherent “wounds,” along with the process of removal and refinement, can be interpreted as symbolic of the ongoing trauma of living in a society that disavows one’s authentic self if one is atypical. KP’s latest series, aptly named over, onto itself, is rooted in that marginalization, although the works represent hope by the tender process used in their creation, soft lines, ability to override gravity’s universal truth by bending to it so as to pass beyond, and obligatory perpetual care, as wood must be oiled annually to maintain a healthy life.
In addition to elongated and circular brooches and pendants, along with those that hang from tabs or cords, KP has made necklaces which, more than any other jewelry format, imply a reciprocal relationship with the wearer, as necklaces rely on the body for resolution. Assembled from a series of solid wooden rectangles, upon which undulating elements, which have been carved from them, appear to pull away, they may be seen as representing outcasts straining to belong to a society that has habitually rejected them. Strong and empowering, yet lightweight, each jewelry object comes with a dedicated hand-carved wooden box, or shelf, to contain or support it when not being worn.
steven KP received a BFA in Art Metals and Print Media from University of Wisconsin, Madison (2017) and MFA from Rhode Island School of Design in Metalsmithing and Jewelry (2020). They are currently a Visiting Lecturer in Jewelry and Metalsmithing at Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Boston, MA. They have been included in several group exhibitions, including selection for Talente 2021-22 (Munich, DE); in 2020 their work was featured in the Marzee International Graduate Show (Nijmegen, NL) and “SO MINT! bundles and blanks and binds and bends, Steven KP,” Current Obsession Magazine. KP was the recipient of the Marzee Prize 2020, Gallery Marzee, Nijmegen, NL; two Windgate Foundation Scholarships, Rhode Island School of Design (2019 and 2020) and a 2017 Windgate Fellowship, Center for Craft, Ashville, NC.