Massachusetts-based artist Jennifer Maestre creates stunning prickly sculptures inspired by the form and function of sea urchins and made entirely out of different coloured pencils. Copying the spines of the urchin, she wants to highlight how we're often compelled to touch things that we know we're not supposed to.
She explains: "The spines of the urchin, so dangerous yet beautiful, serve as an explicit warning against contact. The alluring texture of the spines draws the touch in spite of the possible consequences. The tension unveiled, we feel push and pull, desire and repulsion. The sections of pencils present aspects of sharp and smooth for two very different textural and aesthetic experiences. Paradox and surprise are integral in my choice of materials. Quantities of industrially manufactured objects are used to create flexible forms reminiscent of the organic shapes of animals and nature. Pencils are common objects, here, these anonymous objects become the structure. There is true a fragility to the sometimes brutal aspect of the sculptures, vulnerability that is belied by the fearsome texture."
To make the pencil sculptures, Maestre takes hundreds of pencils, cuts them into one inch sections, drills a hole in each section (to turn them into beads), sharpens them all and sews them together. The beading technique she relies on most is peyote stitch.
She adds: "I'm inspired by animals, plants, other art, Ernst Haeckel, Odilon Redon, mythology. In fact, it isn't easy to specify particular sources of inspiration. Sometimes one sculpture will inspire the next, or maybe I'll make a mistake, and that will send me off in a new direction."
Discover more of her beautiful work at www.jennifermaestre.com.