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Maria Ignacia Walker

Maria Ignacia Walker is a jewelery artist from Chile. She obtained her first degree in Advertising at Universidad del Desarrollo in 2007, Chile. In October 2015 she graduated from Alchimia Contemporary Jewellery School in Florence, Italy and 2018-2019 she has been invited to Oslo as an artist in residency at KHIO Art Academy to Loupe Studio, PMQ, Hong Kong. Since graduating, she has impressed the audience with her unique jewelry and body-related objects. Through a myriad of small pearl-like spheres she ties together a peculiar tissue, an intricate structure of cells that becomes a kind of extra skin. The poetic work is fascinating and gave Maria Ignacia Walker the PLATINA exhibition prize at the Benaki Museum during the Athens Jewelery Week 2018.


Jewellry pieces from the series Trawa:





Brooch and neckalces from the series Flor De Piel:









Trawa is a collection by Maria Ignacia Walker woven from resin cells and silver dust, which attentively observes an instant of change and exchange. The Mapuche people, who today inhabit the south of Chile, were the only indigenous group in the American continent which managed to resist the Spanish conquest and thus kept their sovereign territory. Since then, they have been subject to an endless string of transformations throughout their history. One of these sea changes has been the rise of silver jewellery.
From the beginning, commercial exchanges between Mapuche and Spanish were done with silver coins — coins which, back then, built economic hegemony through conquered territories. Nevertheless, the Mapuche understood wealth as abundance and not as a means to earn and hoard. For this people, coins did not carry monetary value as much as experimental value. The metal was melted, shaped and hammered to give it a new pattern of existence. Thus it returns to a primal state and regains its inherent preciousness through jewellery — pieces of distinction and ornamentation that draped over female and male Mapuche bodies until the present day. We refer to the ornate earrings, prominent necklaces and round clasp-pins with which they fasten their clothes.
Trawa awoke from this gesture of material resistance. Silver remains on the body as a sign of strength of its bearer, as an object which situates itself as a subject. This collection seeks to evoke a sense of protection through jewel-amulets that serve as a second skin, through a meticulous manual process that turns silver dust into delicate woven threads and pearls.
With her work, the artist continues to explore and consider the organic limits of the body through new materials. These are pieces that remind antique Mapuche ornaments, seeming to melt into the skin in fine layers of thread. They rise, too, as fragments of the body, blooming subtly to the surface. Memory inhabits the skin and becomes a silver mantle.




In ancient times, the human body signified itself as a micro manifestation of the macro universe, a system of repetition in which everything that happened above and around was replicated in its being. And it is the macro—full of energy, of cycles, of phases dictated by the movement of the stars, by the breaking and making of beings— what was thought to be found in a human being. But how could these deaths and births replicate within a body?
Skin has an unmatched vital cycle. It is a barrier between a being and the world, permeable, shifting, and breakable; it can eliminate —through its pores— water, bacteria and cells which the body needs to rid itself of in order to regenerate. Energies, cycles, phases branded by elements within ourselves and around us— could this be a manifestation of what happens on a macro level?
Maria Ignacia Walker’s work is an obsessive study of the human body through layers, textures, colors and temperatures. This is why in her series Flor de piel this pronounced, porous and changing layer is so evident, coating the skin and giving it its sustenance and release. It is a way to constantly remind the spectator, like flowers in spring and the earth’s cycles, of the workings within the human being on a daily, physical and unconscious basis. Each cell births itself from another. They are all born independently and will then give birth to corporeal tissue. Maria Ignacia Walker recreates them artificially, with different shades and textures, directly conjuring up the making of skin.
Her technique is one of the most ancient ones—weaving. In advance she must craft her materials through a complex process that requires a different timeline, a time of creation in which the transparent thread is tightened with resin, creating small drops of varying sizes, as varying as our intrepid universe. These micro-orbs are dyed with pigments that attach themselves to the thread and are joined together by crochet. Through this same process many of the spheres get released, just like cells that regenerate while others immerse themselves in each piece, creating artificial tissues that envelop the body in the shape of necklaces, gloves, brooches or masks. Thus, weaving and linking, an ode to generation – regeneration is born, making evident the cyclic course of life, human beings and the universe.




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