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Steve Saracino > About me

About the Designer

My work embraces a wide-range of subject matter and is narrative in character. My ideation breaks down into four categories: Objects created from using my own social conscience/political viewpoint; historic subject matter relating to cultural iconography from the countries where I have lived while pursuing my career in education and studio metalsmithing; humorous renditions of cultural events both historic and pop-oriented; and the making of larger objects dealing with non-objective volumetric form.
For better or worse, I have tried to keep a jewelry or metalsmithing idiom as a root for the pieces, but the work (especially the social conscience/political-oriented objects) has evolved to owning only a vestige utilitarian function. Bracelets or rings that in reality will never be worn become the platform to instigate my narration. With this said it is often hard to remind myself that my initial training in metal followed a strict traditionalist voice. One ring to each finger, all bracelets and pins must be suitable for body adornment in the pursuit of high aesthetics. I decided very early that if one finger were good, then it would follow that two, three, or even four is better, if not, edgier and bracelets would be used for “weightier” ideation. Gem usage and functionality became optional as I quickly deserted my roots and never looked back.
I like to think that I provoke a person to resolve the utilitarian dichotomy and also what the narrative represents. George Harrison once explained that; “Mainly the object has been to get something out of my system as opposed to ‘being a songwriter’”. My edgier work, and to some extent the more humorous pieces, tend to follow that perspective. When stuff happens I need to confront the specific absurdity and then record the event to get it out of MY system. So placing a surface-to-air missile onto a three-fingered ring, for example, seems to work for me on a number of levels. Perhaps put more simply; the world is going to hell in a handbag and I am recording it in metal.
The larger objects were referenced from a plethora of visual information I ingested from a two-year stay in Italy. Tuscan (and to a lesser extent, Etruscan) iconography formed the basic influence in the designs. The sure brilliance of the metal work I researched there often negated my existence in its beauty and craft execution. My method to combine the historic context relegated to these objects with a more contemporary sensibility formed the basis for my own ideation on those specific genres.
I would be remiss if I didn’t add to this mix the importance of my day job as a Professor, and the effect it has had on my own work. My studio work often takes a back seat to meeting the educational needs of my students. My teaching has also always been the fixed link in helping me to refine my own design skills. I learn more about design through assisting my students in resolving both aesthetic and technical problems than I ever obtain through reading texts, traveling, or attending seminars. With a seemingly never-ending supply of “fresh” students coming into my life, honing my design skill has become sort-of an “on the job training” scenario for the past 28 years with never a dull moment, ever. Because of this hierarchy of importance, each new piece is internalized for long gestation periods before they ever reach paper. The actual fabrication tends to move at its own pace and depending on the number of transitions in the work a single column fabrication or a series of decorative cherubs may take months to execute. My body of work is not extensive and, perhaps, never will be. This is not an excuse, but more of a way to explain that studio art is a complement to my life’s work not a means to an end.
I hope this helps you somewhat in understanding what makes me tick. Most of all, thank you for your kind interest in my work.
Stephen Saracino
Professor/Design/Metalsmithing