Ela Bauer studied at the Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam. She speaks about how she tried to get to the roots of what makes something into a “jewel.” Through this process, her jewels became more of an object. They were statements about terms such as: preciousness, wearability, decoration. The artist is known for her use of silicone rubber and her pieces also incorporate a variety of materials including latex, silver copper mesh, wool, pigments, coral. pearls and smokey quartz.
Statement from her web site ...
"Nowadays, the definition of jewelry still occupies me in many ways, as a kind of eternal question. Maybe it reflects the difficulty of naming things and defining meanings anyway. The organic, cell and tree - like forms in my work, express my preoccupation with the fact, that everything; situations, definitions, people…, is in continuous movement, continuous change."
"The processes of change in the organisms; growth, development, and disintegration, are in my view the ultimate metaphors for this feeling. They have a great influence on my ‘organic’ form-vocabulary.
"The organic, cell and tree - like forms in my work, express my preoccupation with the fact, that everything; situations, definitions, people…, is in continuous movement, continuous change. The processes of change in the organisms; growth, development, and disintegration, are in my view the ultimate metaphors for this feeling. They have a great influence on my ‘organic’ form-vocabulary.
"The silicone rubber that I use, is a perfect medium to create the kind of forms that fascinate me. and to express the atmosphere of ‘liquid definitions’. It is amorph, and enables me to create ‘sharp’, casted elements and structures, as well as ‘flowing fields’.
In the last period, I have made works which are constructed out of casted silicone ‘cells’.Those cells are often connected by means of sawing. The act of sawing symbolizes for me the eternal human attempt to create, protect, mend, reconstruct.. There is a certain contradiction between the ‘modern’ material which silicone is, and the ancient technique of sawing, nevertheless they fit perfectly together, strengthening each others impact. My sawing was purely functional to start with, but very quickly I began to ‘draw’ with the needle and the thread on the surface of the rubber. I created veins, rivers, paths, scars...
Colour is very important to me. It determines to a great extent the meanings and atmosphere of the work. I usually mix pigments in the silicone, and actually paint my jewels layer after layer. This manner of work enables me to control the colour, thickness and the transparency of the work, and makes it possible for me to embody ‘processes on the inside’, having a visual impact on the surface."
Bauer's work is included in New Directions in Jewellery II, a London-Black Dog publication highlighting the varied ways in which jewelry-makers challenge the boundaries of design. She co-organized a traveling exhibition of contemporary jewelry, First we quake, now we shake in 2005-08.