Imagine tying a string to all the nostalgic souvenirs of your past and looping the whole mess around the present day.
Artist John Y. Wind is doing just that with his assembled keepsake collages that simultaneously reflect on the past and mirror modern day. In his upcoming solo show, The Making of a Modern Man, Wind will explore masculinity, the passage of time, and how outside pressures like the media and societal expectations can decide what it means to be a man.
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Busts of influential men, like Beethoven, are adorned with necklaces of handheld appliances and tangled wires. A sculpture of David is decked out with pearls, watches and Elvis paraphernalia.
Wind's creations highlight found objects, whether they are vintage baubles or the artist’s old toiletries. “It’s the stuff of my life, and this is an attempt to encapsulate my journey,” he says. “These are things found during my travels, objects from my past, pictures from magazines. The objects become stand-ins for the passage of time.”
His day job involves a different type of art: Wind is a jewelry designer. His company, Maximal Art, sells necklaces and bracelets with charms and monogrammed lockets.
Wind, who was born in Israel but moved to Philly in first grade, says that he fell into jewelry making accidentally, when he went to the Slade School of Art in London after graduating from Penn, in the early '80s. “I became a club kid, a party animal by night. The scene was just so dynamic there, everyone was being creative in a different way,” says Wind. “I was making jewelry for my friends — crazy brooches we would wear. By the time I graduated, I was supporting myself on the jewelry I was making.”
The Making of a Modern Man is his first public fine arts exhibit. “It’s like I’ve stepped into a time capsule,” Wind says of setting up the show. “Suddenly I’ve picked up and it’s London in ’85.”
If you go
“The Making of a Modern Man”
James Oliver Gallery
723 Chestnut St., fourth floor
May 17-June 26 (opening reception May 17)