This mixed media jewelry pin is from 1987. It included every single technique I’d learned that year in my Advanced Metals classes at UTEP. The design has in it marriage of metals, as seen in the silver and brass railroad crossing stick atop, and the silver round disks below. I constructed three bezels and set three jewels for the traffic signal on the right. And I used rivets to connect the centered (and off kilter) number 2 highway sign. The RR crossing sign below sways left to right and back again, with a slightly different sort of rivet. I completed the design, (correction: began the design) by etching the word west into the copper back plate. I was also studying printmaking that semester and put a little of those skills to use. The back has a hinged clasp. Practically, it’s an ambitious set up and things melted here and there. I reconstructed several areas a number of times. This was a long time ago. It’s not perfect, but it was a fun and challenging design, that tells a story. I’ll share the story for my nephews Alfonso, Daniel, Carlos, and Manuel. The story includes their father, whose recently passed away.
Luis was practical. He was also complicated. Sometimes he caused me to pause and think, and other times he just annoyed me. He said things like…You’re not Mexican, you don’t ‘think’ in Spanish! Do you? YOU think in English! Yup, I’d answer, I sure do! He’d get frustrated. I’m not Mexican, I’d qualify, I was born and raised in America. He’d grumble and exit the room. I’d never considered what language I thought in, I was in my 20’s. And who are you to be directing my thinking? I said to him finally. Luis had his view of the world, it was different from mine. I was young and stubborn. He was older and stubborn.
Back to the pin…It’s based on Luis’s continual suggestion to me, most of my college years…to go west. Go west, Monica! Go west! He’d go on to tell me as an artist I might find more opportunity heading to California. When I moved to New Mexico (from Texas), he approved. It was a better option for me, he indicated. The last time I saw Luis, he was staying with us, here in Phoenix. He noted our move had been a smart one and we’d done well for ourselves. Aren’t you going to tell me to go west? Ah…you should, he muttered. California Monica. California. Some of his comments and sharing had bits of truth in them and a few things have stayed with me. He impressed me with something the last time we spoke. It was about human nature, ambition, drive, and money. I think about that conversation pretty often.
I guess the pin is about travel and movement, not the Grapes of Wrath movement, only opportunity…and change. It’s all good. RIP Luis.