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Orly Genger and Jaclyn Mayer's Knitted Delights

Manhattan-based artist Genger goes from hand knitting nylon ropes for her large-scale installations to pairing up with Mayer for a delicate jewellery range.

The sleek, elegant, cloth and chain necklaces and cuffs that Orly Genger finger-knits for her collaboration with jewellery designer Jaclyn Mayer are as far from a mumsy muffler as Genger's monumental hand-knitted sculptures are from dainty craft or heavy and severe traditional sculpture.

The Manhattan-based artist joined up with the California-born and New York-based designer to create a limited edition line of jewellery to launch during her working on "Whole," a site-specific installation in the Indianapolis Museum of Art. "Whole" consists of thousands of feet of nylon climbing rope which Genger hand-knitted, painted black and stacked into imposing towers throughout the IMA's Efroymson Family Entrance Pavilion and its scale is integral to its power.

In contrast, the vibrantly hued pieces that Genger and Mayer offer through the museum, Mayer's website and the Larissa Goldston gallery are light, charming and playful. The line's jaunty yet seriously chic allure reflects Genger's willingness to play with sculpture's associations and conventions, as well as Mayer's signature undercutting of clichés in her own field, such as her entirely sterling silver 'diamond solitaire' ring and cameo set with a mirror. Here we talk to the artist and designer about creating an ideal interweave of art and style.

Dazed Digital: Was your decision to collaborate on this project influenced by other artists doing high profile work with designers or fashion brand`?
Jaclyn Mayer: Not really. I have been a big fan of Orly's work since we first met and have always seen her technique and materials as something that could be translated into wearable items in an interesting way. I was very excited when we first talked about it because it was something I had been thinking about for a while.
Orly Genger: For me not at all. I just needed something cool to wear and turned to my friend Jaclyn who is an amazing designer. She came over to my studio and we just sort of started playing around with all the materials sitting around us. And then we're like wait I want one like this and one like that. It happened very organically. But it was very exciting.

DD: Jaclyn, you did your undergraduate degree in photography and art history. What area of art history was your focus and how you articulate your work as a photographer?
JM: I was mostly interested in contemporary art/photography. I finished my Masters in Fashion Design last year in London so I don't work as a photographer anymore.

Jaclyn, how has your art training informed your jewellery making?
JM: I think it gives me a broader reference point. I do tend to over analyze what I'm doing and I think this is a result of my art history training. I'm also very conscious that I design clothing and jewellery because I want to create something that can be worn over and over again. I'm not in it to make fine art; otherwise I would have stayed an artist. But I do like the collaboration because it offers me the challenge of combining the two.

DD:  What attributes attract you to an accessory you want to own and wear?
JM: Even though I'm a jewellery designer I actually don't wear a lot of jewellery. For me jewellery is very personal. I tend to wear a piece for two or three years without taking it off. I guess in the same way that Orly sees her artwork as an extension of herself, I see the jewellery I wear as part of myself. I think about this personal relationship a lot when I'm designing. Of course I do like to have fun at times and put on something new and exciting. That's what these pieces are I think.

DD: What were your main concerns about how to translate Orly's work to such a small scale, while keeping the integrity of her artistic style recognisable?
JM: Even though Orly's work is quite heavy and chunky, I see something integrally delicate in it. Orly once explained it to me as each knot being an extension of herself. I guess that stuck with me and that's what I wanted to pass on with the jewellery. I think as a medium it translates very well into jewellery. My biggest concern was that it not look too handicraft.

AFH: Orly, have you knitted clothes?
OG: Rarely. Once I made a big suffocating dress I wore to one of my performances but generally not.  

AFH: Do you expect different fans for "Whole" than the people who will want to the jewellery pieces, or do you see the jewellery almost as souvenirs for the show?
JM: Hopefully these pieces are more than souvenirs and can have their own life outside of the show.  I think they will appeal to both people who see and don't see the show.
OG: Agreed. The necklaces are awesome in their own right!