“I would give the greatest sunset in the world for one sight of New York’s skyline. Particularly when one can't see the details. Just the shapes," Gail Wynand in Ayn Rand's, The Fountainhead, states. I get it, Gail. I get it.
I knew I was obsessed with buildings, but reading this book gave me another level of appreciation. Rand's perspective is one of worship, I would say. I don't know that I'm quite there exactly, but I loved reading her perspective and the characters' devotion to architecture.
Looking back on my time in New York, I think the architecture of the city was my first real and consistent source of inspiration for my geometric work. I grew up around nature and wasn't trained to see the beauty of gritty, cement environments. But, when nature isn't an option, why not discover the beauty of a city? Surrounded by buildings every single day, I found myself appreciating lines and angles every time I walked out the door - on the sidewalk, in shadows, how buildings interact with each other and collide in design, walls, windows, stairwells, and power lines.
I started taking photos of buildings when I moved to Berlin. I lived in old East Berlin, where there were many examples of communist architecture. A lot of order, repetition and right angles against the grey sky and cement surroundings. I loved it. Dallas is also interesting. However, there are more diagonals and less buildings, which gives me more opportunities to look up and capture a stark building against a plain blue sky. I post my architectural observations @swain_art on Instagram, if you're interested.
When I was developing a name and concept for my first collection of jewelry, I came across an essay called "Tectonics in Architecture: From the Physical to the Metaphysical," 1986, by Robert Maulden. I became enamored with this idea, which is essentially architecture being more than the lines and angles I'm referring to, and what happens when everything comes together to form space and humans utilize the space. The building takes on a spirit of its own which can change throughout time, depending on culture and the evolution of time. Maulden writes:
I took this idea a bit further and thought of it in terms of fashion, in kind of an inverted way - who you become when you wear a certain thing; the persona or state of mind you can take on or attain when wearing a certain piece of clothing, jewelry, brand, or color. For me, black clothing and silver jewelry always zips me up to feel confident, cool, and organized.
So, I named the collection Tectonica in reference to the transition from the physical to the meta-physical, with the intention that for the time you are wearing a piece, you feel whatever you set out to feel.
"This is the essential nature of tectonics; the elevation of mere physicality to something invoking a state of mind" (Maulden 151).
Explore the systems and spaces of Tectonica here