Thursday, July 14, 2011
Bringing the fantastic to life: Jen Parrish's relics
The first beloved toy that I remember is my Fisher Price castle, whose most important resident was a smiling pink dragon with aqua ruffles and yellow dots. Ever since those days fantasy has played a big role in my work, from stories remembered to visuals from museums and books. The Gothic arched window that the maiden looks out of from her loom; jeweled treasures found in crumbling locked chests, holding magical powers of strength and courage; talking animals--all of these made a big impact on my visual inspiration growing up.
Now that I am older, I still find myself inspired by the same genre. Writers like Neil Gaiman, Catherynne M. Valente, Terri Windling; films like The Fountain, Prospero's Books, Orlando, and The Fall; the art of the Pre-Raphaelites, Arthur Rackham, Beatrix Potter, and Brian Froud; music from Florence & the Machine, Fever Ray, and Patrick Wolf--they all transport me to another world that is sometimes dangerous but full of light, hope and possibilities.
There seems to be a circle of myth around the internet, a group of like-minded souls, some of whom I have been lucky enough to meet through my work or through their writing. Vending at WisCon was one of the best experiences of my professional and personal life a few years back, and if it were closer and easier to get my baggage out there from Boston it would be a yearly pilgrimage for me. I met some very kind folks and had the opportunity to work with a few of my favorite writers on commissioned mysterious gifts of "Vessels of Glass and Amber" and "Glittering Jewels Worn on Wedding Days" (one of the biggest compliments a jewelry-maker can have).
I am continually thankful for the brave souls out there that share their stories and mythical tales for all of us to lose ourselves in. I am not a writer and find words hard to come by most of the time. Speaking visually through my work brings me the greatest joy and the least amount of awkwardness. How lucky I am that there are people who write stories about what I create, that my work (seen on the left) was seen in a tiny flash in one of the most well-known fantasy films (Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix), and that I am able to make jewelry for some of the museums that house the very same things that inspire me (The British Museum & Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum). That is my own fairytale come true.
You can find me and my work at the upcoming Abbadia Mare Festival at Hammond Castle in Gloucester, MA on July 23 & 24 where my window to the world will be Gothic with a view of the ocean! and at the Boston Handmade Market on July 30 in Somerville, MA. My work can also be seen in Lisa Stock's stage adaptation of Neil Gaiman's short story "Snow, Glass, Apples," which opens on August 17 at the East Atlanta Village Farmers Market.