Kerianne Quick's Transmutations

Kerianne Quick is an Assistant Professor of Jewelry and Metalsmithing at San Diego State University. Her work for the Ornament exhibition is from a series of pieces entitled Transmutations. Find out more about the series below.

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The work was created using found bricks dug from the local clay bodies of the Hudson River Valley in the 19th and 20th century, and fired in the now defunct brickyards that dot the riverside. Over the course of a century, hundreds of thousands of unusable bricks were tossed into the river as industrial waste. The banks near the former brickworks are beaches made of brick where they are polished by the water and tumble back to dust in the tidal river. I collected these bricks, researched the marks and history of the region. Using these objects combined with pearls passed-down to me I explored personal and environmental inheritance, regional history, and the aesthetic ideals of the cultures that once occupied those lands. 


Material foraged out of the Hudson River and Rondout Creek are shifted in form, and used to explore the post-industrial landscape, regional histories, the human impulse to adorn, and cultural aesthetics.

The brickworks that once occupied the shores of the Hudson River used its banks to discard failed fired bricks. These failures are the containers of the hope, pride, greed, labor, sweat, process, etcetera of a rich industrial culture.  As remains of an exhausted resource and defunct process they become a finite material. As a material found in but not belonging to the landscape they become a way to examine place, history, and the ways we carry both with us. The fruits of the river; oysters, shad, sturgeon – replaced by brickworks, cement, mineral mines, and stone quarries. As European immigrants settled the land and displaced the native Algonquin speaking tribes – culture and its produce also shifted – from hunter to farmer to industry. From shell, bone, and skin to pearl, metal, and silk.

These hand-cut and carved bricks are combined with pearls, shell, silk, silver and gold. Using stringing, and pearl knotting techniques the work plays between the adornment ideals of the Dutch Golden Age and the ceremonial adornment of the native Lenape Tribes of the Hudson River Valley. The resulting objects are hybrid artifacts that propose a series of cultural substitutions/additions/deletions.