Kristin Mitsu Shiga


Electroformed Copper, Vitreous Enamel, Sterling, Pearls, Lens, Feathers, Steel, Worm
Photo: Courtney Frisse

Last week I featured electroformed copper pendants by Kristina Glick Shank. I also found another outstanding electroformed copper artwork, this one by Kristin Mitsu Shiga. I think it's a wonderful idea to portray a chrysalid, the very symbol of transience, in metal - one of the most permanent materials possible. I am sorry it's titled Evolve - I don't love it when the concept of evolution is conflated with the concept of individual development. But this piece is so interesting, I don't care. I especially want to know where the "worm" in the materials list comes into play - is it inside the reliquary of the chrysalid, visible through the embedded lens?


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Wow. This is so unusual. I see a lot of art but I've never seen anything quite like this. The use of materials is really clever. I too, am also intrigued by the invisible worm! It is probably where you hypothesise it to be but rather to tricky to photograph as a result.

Wow, that is gorgeous and amazingly creative, I especially love the colors so soft with the mottled verdigris.

BTW, I don't know how I've missed your blog before, it's wonderful.

First the piece itself...

I think it's awesome because it is at once almost hideously ugly and remarkably beautiful - pieces that create conflicting reactions, especially when they manage it with first glance, are the very best. I am trying to work out how to say this without it coming out very wrong...

I find it analogous to sexuality in a very primitive sense. It elicits something of a visceral reaction, while also invoking a primal, sensual feel. Put simply, it's gross (like sex) yet strangely attractive and exciting (also like sex)...

But now I have to take exception to your distaste at the use of evolve and evolution to describe personal development.

I think that using evolve to describe beliefs and feelings that have changed over an extended period of time is quite apt really. For example; "I have changed a lot over the last twenty years and my belief in gods and magical thinking has evolved throughout that entire time, from fundamentalist Christianity, through twisted mixtures of Christianity and magic and into the present, where I am now an atheist." Using the word "evolve" in that context implies that there is a lot more to that experience than I explicitly denote in that statement and expresses that sense of slow change and subtle alterations with one word instead of several.

And I think that using evolution outside the context of biological systems is a net positive, in that it makes it easier for people to relate to the concept - not to mention that it also becomes a word that people hear more often. I just don't see much of a downside to pop-culture use of concept of evolution...

But DuWayne, the particular piece is obviously biological. Many people who don't understand evolution think it's equivalent with metamorphosis, and attaching the word "evolve" to a chrysalid doesn't help. Using "evolve" to describe nonbiological processes I have no problem with, as long as it's clear it's not biological evolution that is being represented.

Kind of like the "nucleus" of a cell vs the "nucleus" of an atom vs the "nuclear" family. They're all based on the same root, similar concept, so that's cool. But saying you "nuked" something in the microwave is maybe not the best choice for public science literacy (although I do it) because microwave energy and nuclear energy are different things...

I understand now. I am actually writing a post about this, and your actual objection complicates things a little - gotta revise it a bit. Though I am actually kind of glad to have the opportunity to bring it up, because I have been rather irritated lately by some folks who have problems with using certain words outside the context of their clinical definitions.

My favorite is the objection to using addiction outside it's clinical definition. Mainly because there isn't anything approaching a coherent, cohesive clinical definition.

It also has given me the opportunity to link some of my favorite posts of yours...

Awesome, DuWayne. I'll be interested to see what you come up with. I agree that addiction is an exceedingly ambiguous and difficult word to work with in policy, health, and scientific contexts alike. Discussion can only help!

As far as the misuse of 'evolution' goes I've found i've got a lot more twitchy about that nowadays. Almost flipped out at a friend talking about pokemon...

The piece is beautiful though. I love your blog there are always so many wonderful things to look at :)