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Emilie Mulcahey was born just outside the northern industrial city of Cleveland, Ohio, but spent the majority of her youth in rural North Carolina. Trained as a jeweler, she constantly questions the role of accessories as functional objects. Mulcahey currently works as an independent jeweler in Richmond, VA and co-heads the collaborative art group, Collab-A-Craft. In 2014 she co-curated the online social media campaign #ThisIsABrooch and was selected as an Emerging Artist for the American Craft Council Hip Pop Program.
A deep interest in storytelling has long shaped my body of work. As a child, I would escape into the world of the Grimm Brothers, folk tales, and fantasy novels. For years I read the same beloved paperback novels over and over again until the spines burst. During my youth my favorite storylines pertained to how the natural world imparts lessons to humanity. I yearned for the guidance of Aesop’s animals in my own tumultuous life. Unfortunately while such stories are lighthearted enough of the surface, the lessons learned come at a steep price. In these tales sensuality, curiosity, and divergence from social norms always end in ruin. When Little Red Riding Hood steers from the beaten path she is quickly gobbled up by the Big Bad Wolf. The cautionary nature of these types of stories has lingered with me through adulthood. My desire to explore my own narrative is often at odds with the child-like fear to hide behind routine, conformity and the status quo.
In my work I use the body to tell stories. I pain sensual watercolor images on dried pig gut as a visual reference to the illuminated texts that first documented the fables of Aesop and other folklorists. I have a fascination with how jewelry is displayed upon the body and what information it discloses about the wearer (whether intended to or not). My pieces pair illustrations with reclaimed objects to tell personal narratives of desire, loss, and self-discovery. By forming my own tales into wearable pieces of art, I force myself to confront my ingrained fears of nonconformity and share my own history with the viewer. Each of my pieces is an invitation to listen to a story without the need for exchanging words.