Brilliance: Emiko Oye

Brilliance: Emiko Oye

Emiko Oye, Summer Bracelets

Emiko Oye, Summer bracelets, 2012 – 13, repurposed Lego bricks, sterling silver, stretch rubber cording. Photo: Emiko Oye

On the one hand, Emiko Oye’s jewelry, made of the Lego bricks we all grew up with, is pure populism. On the other, it’s high art. “Emiko Oye reinvents and redefines historic and haute couture jewelry with an irrepressible, playful palette of Lego bricks and repurposed materials, creating a new, quirky drama,” says Gail M. Brown.

How she describes her work: “I create one-of-a-kind, museum art jewelry, as well as fashion ready-to-wear through my emiko-o reware line. Maintaining a consistent balance of artist and designer keeps work fresh for me.”

Her training: “Syracuse University’s BFA program studying with Michael Jerry and Barbara Walter. I minored in fashion design. My real-world jewelry training kicked in after graduation, however, assisting working artists and jewelers. Spending close to two decades working alongside Harriete Estel Berman was more valuable and educational than any degree.”

Why she makes jewelry: “I’ve been a maker since I can remember, choosing craft as my mode of entertainment – producing [everything from] zines, greeting cards, fashion designs in grade school to dance recital costumes and elaborate Christmas gifts as a teen. Making is programmed into my being, and the process of taking inspiration to transformation of materials revs me up from the inside out. It’s what drives me to work into the wee hours of the night; I gave up caffeine years ago because the adrenaline of making is enough.”

Her biggest challenge: “Getting away from the computer (and smartphone). The black hole of technology has a magnetic pull that’s very hard to resist and often wins out against the eager pleas coming from my studio bench.”

Read the rest of the profiles of jewelry artists in this issue.