Hi everyone,

The last of our previews introduces James Thurman.


Fascinated with how the method of presentation and display affects the perception of the object, my recent work uses the format of a natural history museum as a vehicle for cultural critique.  In my “Ancient Artifacts of the 21st Century” installation, I use objects of my own creation as the subject for a fictitious future’s misinterpretation. All objects included in the exhibition are comprised of recycled materials that are based on their implied function, such as a reading chair and lamp made of books, a dining chair made of flatware, and a dining table made of dishes.  Through the humorous misinterpretation of these objects, issues of material culture hierarchies, consumerism, and environmentalism are explored in a playful and accessible manner.

The “McMuseum of Anthropological Archaeology” is the fictitious museum of the 24th Century that has humorously misinterpreted these “ancient artifacts of the 21st Century.”  The imaginary future I have created as a setting for the McMuseum is one where the TransWorld Corporation has assumed control of the entire world and are using the discovery of these artifacts to support their consumption-based society.

Workshop Description

Thurmanite® and cold connections

For more than ten years, I have been exploring a process of using epoxy resin to create a composite material made of layered recycled paper, now called “Thurmanite®.”  I find both the conceptual as well as the aesthetic aspects of this material compelling, particularly as a material for jewelry.  Throughout human history, we have adorned ourselves with materials found in our surroundings and I am interested in continuing that tradition. In pieces with Thurmanite® made from solid colored papers, the material seems to be a lightweight and colorful stone of unknown origins, inviting further exploration.  In pieces with Thurmanite® made from maps, the physical layers of the maps represent the conceptual layering of our life experiences through our daily travels.  It is my goal that my jewelry is beautiful, wearable, and thought-provoking.

Not only are a variety of cold connections necessary when using this material as part of a wearable piece but I greatly enjoy the creative problem-solving aspect of combining riveting with threaded connections.  Often the final piece includes a variety of techniques which are somewhat challenging to reverse engineer without an awareness of the original sequence of their use.  This process of discovery can become a hidden dialog between me and other makers.

Check back later for more symposium related news.

Your Friendly Symposium Staff