Jan Huling is a beadwork artist from New York.
“My three-dimensional collages combine found objects with surface design, sometimes touching on narrative themes. I’m also drawn to religious and political icons, inspired by a continuing fascination with indigenous or popular culture and world religions. By juxtaposing these icons with an eclectic assortment of objects, the viewer is challenged to consider common images within an altered context.
“In each of my constructions, surface design is the key component. Czech seed beads adorn objects in colorful patterns, camouflaging their original circumstance, allowing us to see them as pure form without their usual connotations. The process is slow and meticulous, zen-like, with the choice of forms motivating color schemes and iconography.
“Certain themes continue to resonate for me. The dolls I frequently include in my constructions explore dreams of childhood while removing them from the realm of cherished playthings. For me, musical instruments represent the lyrical joy that music imparts to our lives and hearkens back to youthful dreams of virtuosity. Birds, in their quicksilver beauty, represent ultimate freedom.
“I’m also now working on two-dimensional pieces, using tiny colored paper dots to embellish found images such as postcards. My goal in covering the surfaces of sculptural objects or flat images, is to transform the mundane and allow us to imagine the magic within the familiar.
There’s a real strength of design and colour in Jan’s work. The boldness of the beadwork emits great vibrancy and is quite joyful. They teeter on the brink of gaudiness in the same way as Frederique Morrel’s repurposed needlepoints.
This kind of work makes me want to get some beads and see what I can enrich. It’s another paradigm shift and alters in the way we can consider beads and what to do with them. It may not be needlework in the traditional sense, but it’s definitely a bit of a game changer and that does the job for me.