Some people are lucky enough to find that thing they were meant to do in life––the thing that seemingly comes naturally to them. And when they do, everything seems to just flow. It’s as if they had been doing it all along, even if it’s their first time. And for artist Elizabeth Hake, that was the case with metalwork.
Though she had long been drawn to creative arts, jewelry making and metalwork weren’t even on her radar until her mom encouraged her to take an art class. Flipping through the course catalog, a jewelry-making class caught her eye, so she signed up. Little did she know, that single class would forever change the trajectory of her life.
That first day, as Elizabeth puts it, “I took to it like a duck to water.” And the rest is history. She fell in love with the craft of making “miniature sculptures” in the form of jewelry, as well as working with metal. Now, nearly 30 years later, she is just as passionate about it and continues to push herself to explore new ways of working with metal.
Elizabeth has since figured out how to translate her iconic geometrical jewelry style to larger-scale wall sculptures. And in the process, she realized a happy accident: her jewelry ideas inform her wall pieces and the wall pieces inform her jewelry. “That’s been really something I didn’t expect or predict.”
Read on or watch the video below to hear more of Elizabeth’s story.
When did you know art was your calling?
My mom really encouraged me to get into art and offered to pay for me to take a class. I looked through the catalog and I was interested in the jewelry as sculpture class. I took that class and I was hooked the first day. I had never worked with metal before but I took to it like a duck to water.
What inspires your work?
A lot of my work is like perspective drawings but not quite right. It’s just out of my head. When I started the wall pieces, it was a natural step from my jewelry which is inspired by a little sketch or drawing.
Only later did I remember that when I was a little kid, I would make all of these paper cutouts to look like things were coming off the wall. I was into animals and I had pictures of animals everywhere. I’d cut things out of books and bend the paper so it looked like the rhinoceros was coming off the wall. I had forgotten about that, but when I realized it, I knew I was coming full circle. Both my interest and that perspective.
What challenges you the most about your work?
Decision making. Some people are naturally good at having ideas and other people are naturally good at sticking with one thing. I have a million ideas and I have a hard time stopping the other ideas from coming through. The bigger pieces are harder for me to get through. I feel like it’s best when I don’t start anything else and I just focus on the piece I’m working on.
What do you love most about creating art?
In art, they’ll tell you it’s about the process and creating. But if you just create work and don’t show it to anybody, you’re really missing the whole other side of creating, which is putting it out there and sharing and seeing how people interact with it. I really like to see what other people see or how they react to my work and if they get an emotional reaction. That’s part of the reason I got into jewelry––people are emotionally attached to jewelry. I like when my work is meaningful to someone else. That’s creating a connection with the person, not just the piece. You put yourself in the piece and then you see the other people reacting to it.
How has your work evolved?
What I hadn’t realized when I started doing the wall pieces was how much something the size of a necklace would inform something the size of a large wall piece. Coming from making jewelry for 29 years, I understand metal. I was kind of nervous but the first day I got into the metal studio, I had no idea what I was going to do. I just started making things and it all fell into place. I know how to move metal. It’s just bigger metal. The other thing that’s really been awesome is how my jewelry ideas inform the wall pieces and how the wall pieces inform my jewelry. That’s been really something I didn’t expect or predict.
What drew you to the Celebration of Fine Art?
If you want to stretch yourself as a person and an artist, this show will change your life. It truly has changed my life. I’ve learned so much about myself. Something that I’ve been wanting to do for probably 15 years was to make something larger than jewelry and this show actually pushed me to do it and to believe in myself. That’s what’s great about the whole concept. You work here around other artists and they comment and encourage you, and you do that for them. It’s almost like an idea incubator. I went to graduate school and I feel like this show is a lot like graduate school. You’re asking yourself, “What can I do?” and looking for something bigger, better, and different to push yourself.