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TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF
I’m Lia Huntington, a mixed media artist specializing in metals, fiber, and photography. I’m the owner and founder of Brick & Wire—a line of jewelry and photography prints that express ideas about location, public spaces, how materials change over time, and how valuable materials and experiences are. Before moving to Philly, I studied metalsmithing, blacksmithing, and welding for a few years. After the move, I shifted my career path and currently work as an occupational therapist for adults with developmental disabilities. While this may limit my time in the studio, it helps me clarify what I need out of my art practice and has taught me how to prioritize, balance, and organize my projects.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR CREATIONS
My art practice includes collecting images and materials from my surroundings and incorporating them into jewelry and sculptural pieces. I split my studio time between gradually creating complex jewelry pieces and sculptures and developing production jewelry pieces and related photograph prints. I started Brick & Wire in 2017 as a way to share this line of jewelry and prints.
My current products include fragments of brick set in silver stud earrings, layered enameled earrings, digitally embroidered bracelets, and photo prints as postcards and stickers. These pieces reflect observations of different parts of Philadelphia. The brick components were collected from locations around the city over the past few years and the enamel layers and bracelets are in color shades and combinations that mirror the row homes, old warehouses, and factory buildings in Philly. I want my pieces to be little portals that carry these meaningful ideas and experiences of the community.
HOW DID YOU GET STARTED?
In 2016, I attended a two-week workshop at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts where I started incorporating brick in my metalwork. I returned home with a piece partly in-progress and realized that I was in need of a studio space. At the time, NextFab had just opened their North Philly location with the jewelry studio. Finding NextFab helped me incorporate studio time into my week, which has enabled me to make my artwork more cohesive—following through on ideas, connecting them, and relating projects to each other. My advice for aspiring makers is to make routines for yourself that support your growth as a maker and allow you time to develop your body of work.
WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
I’m inspired by my surroundings—the textures, colors, surfaces, and contours that are all around us. I especially love public spaces that are neglected or overlooked, how traces of time’s passage accumulate in the sites, and how nature gradually overtakes built structures. I’m inspired by small intricate details and patterns on oxidized metal surfaces, faded paint layers, crumbling walls, and plants growing over these surfaces.
WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS?
My goal is to continue developing my art practice and skills. I love creating an idea, planning and executing the steps, and making it into a physical object that others can use and enjoy. I enjoy seeing how the idea changes as I make decisions along the way, and how the final object is both different and similar to the original idea. I’ve also been working on a series of more art jewelry pieces that incorporate brick, and I hope to show them in upcoming galleries, paired with related photographs. With Brick & Wire, I want to build up inventory with more accessible pieces of my work and share them with the public through different venues.
WHAT’S YOUR MOST REWARDING MEMORY?
When people recognize the places I’ve photographed or locations where the bricks originated. A couple of times people have remarked, “Oh I love that place,” and shared their own memories and observations of the location. To me, that’s a special kind of satisfying—for a stranger to have noticed the same unique aspect of our common shared spaces in the city.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PART ABOUT NEXTFAB AND WHY?
Definitely the community. Having access to so many different tools and a group of people interested in creative projects has given me a chance to prioritize my artwork and spend time doing what I love. The staff and other makers at NextFab provide a community space to share ideas and encourage each other to try new materials and processes.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR YOU?
I’ve got lots of plans ahead! I have a piece in a gallery show at the Baltimore Jewelry Center and I’m hoping to book more soon. I’ll also be updating my website with more categories and fresh photographs. Other than that, I’d like to expand the color scheme in my enamel pieces and develop a series of pins that will parallel and expand on both my enamel and brick earrings. Stay tuned for what’s to come!