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SNAG Celebrates: Mando Bee

SNAG Celebrates
SNAG is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2019 and is honoring its membership by highlighting different artists on the SNAG website.

Mando Bee

Introduce yourself (background, education, preferred mediums/styles, etc.)
My name is Mando Bee! I graduated from Texas State University with a BFA in Metals/Jewelry in May of 2018. I have been working in Metals for about 5 years now. Before Metals, I was a 2D artist located in my hometown, San Antonio. I ran a collective, Sweet Peach, that focused on representing Women Identified/Non-binary artists. I use technology such as RhinoCAD 3D modeling software in collaboration with traditional metalworking.  I enjoy working with textiles and metals.  I have recently returned to my roots, including collaging and bookmaking in my practice.

Mando Bee earrings
A pair of earrings crafted by Mando Bee, as seen in artist’s portrait

What are your goals in creating the work that you do? Are there any concepts you are particularly interested in?
As a non-binary individual, I strive to make work that unapologetically challenges the expectations and exclusivity of contemporary jewelry. My toy-like bling lives to make viewers question its’ wearability, buyability, gender specificity, and purpose. The work does not exist in bubble and introducing jewelry that is a minor threat to the upper echelons transcends the contemporary expectations placed on adornment. That being said, I like to focus on challenging myself and the viewer with both aesthetic, concept, and complexity of my fabricated forms.

What does your work mean to you? Why create these objects?
Heck! What a loaded question. I suppose I see my work as the purest form of myself in this crazy world. It is a tangible extension of myself that can be experienced by many. My work is not only a means to live, but a coping mechanism for me. Creating labor intensive work is a way for me to fully engage in my craft and detach from my busy life. I wish to create objects that act as talismans to the wearer, that offer a sense of protection.  The relationship that these wearable objects create is a trinity involving the artist, the wearer, and the viewer. In this relationship, the work becomes an outward extension of all three.

How and when did you arrive at your membership with SNAG?
SNAG! What a wonderful organization. I was a junior in undergrad when my professor, Laritza Janiga, encouraged me to apply for the Student Scholarship for the Asheville conference in 2016.

How have you witnessed SNAG (and metalsmithing in general) evolve since first beginning your membership?
My very first conference was so exciting, and full of new connections. I was so new to metals and everything was covered in a glistening fairy dust. After my first SNAG conference I craved all the knowledge in the world and knew that metals was my calling. It’s only been 4 years, but I am thrilled to see a larger population of fresh voices join. The new generation of makers is a driving force that is the key to the future of craft and the organization. SNAG has taken steps to ensure the representation of that force; by providing more opportunities for makers of all ages. The new generation is armed with vitality, talent, and change. SNAG is making those steps to represent inherently marginalized individuals in the field, and that is what needs to happen to make sure craft doesn’t die.

What are your plans for the future? Is there anything specific that you hope to accomplish or achieve in 2019?
It has been a whirlwind since I graduated with exhibitions, opportunities, and experiences. I have been stewing on a new body of work that will be quite different from I have been working on for the past year. I am hunkering down in my lust for multi-sensory installations and sculpture, pushing myself to create large “adornments” that be can considered for the body and the wall as well. By the end of 2019, I hope for acceptance into a residency or a graduate program.

Mando Bee 1Mando Bee 2Mando Bee 3

Examples of Bee’s fantastical jewelry

To learn more about Mando and their work, visit mandobee.cloud