Achieving Duality

Achieving Duality
Steven Ford and David Forlano, Diamond Pin #6, 2006 18k gold, sterling, polymer clay, diamonds 1.25 x 2.25 x .5"

After 20 plus years of working together Steven Ford and David Forlano’s artistic relationship is one of inherent trust and respect.  However, it also is very much about each man’s individuality and what he uniquely brings to the process.   In the past few years, Maryanne Petrus, their metals artist, has been invited into in their collaborative mix, but the primary interaction is always between Ford and Forlano.

Recently Ford and Forlano spoke about the nature of their collaborative experience.  Listening to them talk about the process of working together, while simultaneously watching an historical overview of their oeuvre, I was struck by the many manifestations of duality in their work.  Each has a distinctive voice and yet as a team they successfully create art with a single, unified statement.  Ford’s interests tend to focus on dimensionality, line and form whereas Forlano generally concentrates his attention on surface effects, patterning and color.   Finished work embodies both approaches and often seems to address issues of contrast though balancing design and materials.

One example of this study in contrasts is their Diamond Pin 6 from 2009.  This elegant pin incorporates four diamonds for added bling into what would already be an interesting piece.  The use of diamonds furthers the idea of contrast in several ways.  The roughness, apparent and real, of the polymer surfaces and the less finished quality of the metals, differs dramatically from the refinement of the gemstones.   One of the hardest of stones, diamonds were formed from crystallized carbon and have been treasured for thousands of years as highly desirable ornamental enhancements.   In F/F’s pin, the sparkle of the diamonds counters the non-lustrous metals as well as the matte texture and earthy hues of the modern, synthetic polymer surfaces.   F/F expanded the idea with the use of round motifs in the surface patterning which echoes the shape of the actual diamonds.  Furthermore, diamond shaped polymer fields surround the real thing.  These delineated segments of color and texture alternate with areas of void to create a play of positive and negative space.

While neither Ford nor Forlano were apt to have thought about it during the artistic process, the brooch might even take us beyond their intentions and reference the game of baseball.  A baseball field is called a diamond.  It generally is diagramed as a square sitting on one point.   In this brooch, the central void recalls the shape of a baseball diamond, an effect that is enhanced by the repetition of the four surrounding square spaces.  Perhaps this adds one further level of engagement for this piece and even another kind of contrast.   While sport is at times the subject of art, one rarely would consider the connections between the sophisticated artistry of Ford and Forlano’s contemporary pin and the game of baseball.  Yet, art never happens in a vacuum and sometimes interesting associations between art and life emerge.
Forlano promises to continue the richness of their artistic collaboration.  Whatever direction this takes them, no doubt, themes of duality will still be a part of their vocabulary.  Stay tuned.

I cannot remember a time in my life that I wasn't interested in looking at art, talking about art and the making of art. In 1990 I earned a Phd in art history at the University of Maryland. My first experiences with polymer clay were in 1992, but I consider my real work with the medium to date from 1999.