Emotions and Artistry in Conversation: An Interview with Kangyi Zhang

Emotions and Artistry in Conversation: An Interview with Kangyi Zhang
Author: Haozhe Chang

Could you share with us how you typically find inspiration for your work?

I contemplate my emotions, asking myself why I feel this way and what I hope to achieve through these emotions. After identifying what I wish to convey and the emotions I want to express, I then consider how to utilize artistic creation as a means of expression.

The project 'Penguin, Shrimp, Surrogacy' introduces a rather imaginative scenario. Could you elaborate on the inspiration behind this concept and how you envision viewers interpreting or engaging with this distinctive narrative?

When I engage in the creative process, I've noticed that when I present a heavy and serious topic, people may lack patience and curiosity if they cannot relate it to their own experiences and emotions. Therefore, I chose to use cartoonish animals to present this topic in a lighter way, aiming to spark people's curiosity. I created an absurd scenario, and this absurdity reflects not only my attitude but also my hope that the audience will feel compelled to explore the themes and meanings within the project. Throughout the process of 'discovery' and maybe there will be 'reflection,' I believe this unusual scenario will stimulate the audience's thoughts and attention. Regardless of the associations or conclusions they draw, I consider my work meaningful if it prompts more people to 'see' the situation and issue. Since there's often a lack of comprehensive and balanced thinking about this topic, and public understanding is often limited according to my research during the project, I aimed to provide more information to the audience. By doing so, I hope to generate deeper 'attitudes' and reflections on the matter.

We're intrigued by your transition from economics to jewellery design. Could you discuss your background and what motivated this significant shift in your career path? Additionally, has your background in economics contributed to your journey in jewellery design in any way?

Before pursuing my undergraduate degree, I had considered a career in design. However, during high school – really a long time ago, my interest in the financial industry grew stronger. I was inspired by successful women in this field who embodied the kind of empowered, influential women I admired. But at one point, I had the opportunity to witness and participate in a fashion show's design, planning, and exhibition, which exposed me to the immediate feedback of creativity and the vibrant energy it can generate. During that time, I also developed a penchant for acquiring small pieces of jewelry, and I even dabbled in crafting simple jewelry accessories myself. These experiences cemented my decision to study jewelry design in the future.

In my undergraduate studies, I delved deeper into the question of 'what I want to do with my life.' I realized that my true passion lay in the act of 'creating.' I believe that 'creation' is the most profound way for me to express myself to the world, and if I can create meaningful works, all the better. What sets jewelry apart is its unique ability to engage in a dialogue with the body, serving both as an interactive form of self-expression and a tactile sculpture. With countless possibilities for combining form and function, each unique combination can yield unexpected results.
 
My background in economics and my previous experiences have been remarkably helpful. It primarily facilitated a rational decision-making process, which is a valuable skill in the world of design. This journey has also been instrumental in helping me 'clarify' that my true calling lies in the realm of creative expression.

What specifically attracted you to the field of narrative jewellery?

Narrative jewelry, for me, serves as an ideal medium for my current stage of creativity. At this point in my artistic journey, my desire for expression is specific—whether it's contemplation of a societal issue or the exploration of the underlying reasons behind an emotion. Narrative jewelry provides a means through which the audience can more directly experience my expression.

 

Your creations frequently mirror personal experiences and the influence of your surroundings. Could you spotlight a particular piece that embodies a significant moment or influence in your life?

The creation of 'Obscured Punctures' was largely motivated by the observation of society's overlooking of the use of IVF injections throughout the entire surrogacy process. Whether it's gestational surrogacy or embryo transfer, the process involves administering ovulation-stimulating injections, which can impose mental and physical stress on women. This stress arises from the seemingly eternal uncertainty of outcomes and the end date. However, society often neglects to consider or discuss this aspect of the process. I believe it's essential to raise awareness that 'women endure hardships from the very early stages of this journey.' 'Obscured Punctures' aims to convey this significant message.

The 'Gift Shop - City' collection features objects that serve as catalysts for cherished memories. How do you intend for these objects to connect with the audience, and what types of memories or emotions do you aim to invoke with this series?

The inspiration for this theme stems from my deep attachment to my hometown. I have a strong emotional connection to the city where I grew up and find beauty in small moments of life, such as the reflection of clouds, water, and trees. The primary intent of this collection is to inspire the audience to reminisce about the 'beautiful moments' associated with these objects and their own cherished memories.

Reflecting on your experiences with exhibitions, which one stands out to you as the most memorable, and why?

In my exhibiting experience at Alsolike during London Design Festival, I had the opportunity to witness a plethora of artistic creations by fellow jewelry artists. Many exceptionally talented artists adeptly use jewelry as a medium to convey their designs and emotions. It was enlightening to see a wide range of expressions through jewelry. I feel extremely fortunate to have been part of the London Design Festival as an artist, allowing me to engage with fellow artists and connect with the audience and jewelry enthusiasts. It was a unique opportunity to showcase my work and demonstrate the craftsmanship involved in creating a piece, making it an integral part of the exhibition. These experiences are truly invaluable to me.

Looking ahead, what are your aspirations as an artist, and how do you foresee your work evolving in relation to themes, techniques, or mediums?

My future goals as an artist involve creating more jewelry objects and wearable pieces to explore further possibilities. I aim to continue pushing the boundaries of expression through techniques such as wax carving and metalwork. In terms of themes, my current plan is to maintain a focus on introspection and reflection on personal experiences and the events happening around me. With each new creation, I intend to explore how art can effectively convey emotions.

Do you have any advice for individuals embarking on a career in jewelry or metalwork?

If you have a creative spark within you, don't hesitate to start creating! The act of creation is incredibly vibrant and life-affirming.

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