Jaydan Moore comes from a long line of California tombstone carvers, which might explain his obsession with the concept of commemoration. “The trade goes back four generations,” says the Virginia artist. “I grew up watching people make accommodations for loved ones, and turn their history into an object.” About six years ago, Moore began collecting silver-plated tableware to use as a raw material for intricate sculptures.
By reshaping these culturally loaded objects, he turned them into vessels for his ideas about memory and material culture. In a new solo exhibition at form & concept, Moore manipulates scrap metal from previous artistic experiments to flip his conceptual universe on its head. “What are the stages of forgetting?” he asks. Dust opens on Friday, June 29 from 5 to 7 pm, with an artist talk on Saturday, June 30 from 2 to 3 pm.
Moore earned his BFA in jewelry and metal arts from California College of the Arts. In graduate school at the University of Wisconsin—Madison, he started sculpting tableware because the material seemed like a strong proxy for memory. “Metal feels tough, but it actually has so much malleability,” Moore says. “It’ll take on dings and scratches and patinas, holding ‘recollections’ of experiences it’s been through.”
He imagined that the heirlooms were still connected to the people who once owned them, and that he could preserve these delicate biographical threads through his sculptures. In a concurrent series of intaglio prints, he recorded the patterns and marks on the platters before chopping them up. “The works on paper were initially just to document what I had found, and those last traces of whoever owned it before me,” he says. “I thought of it as the shadow of somebody.”
Moore graduated with his MFA in 2012, and continued using the tableware as a sculptural medium. Six years on, Moore is an adjunct faculty member at Virginia Commonwealth University. His thoughts about how metal holds meaning have shifted considerably. “For so long, when I was making stuff I always thought there was this living memory in things, that I could feel the person before,” he says.
Lately he’s taken an interest in the way personal significance fades when an object changes hands. Moore realized that the clues he’d been following in the tableware said more about him than their previous owners. He developed an interest in the fragments of metal that were left behind in his studio. “I do so much conglomeration and cutting, so tons of material ends up in the scrap pile,” says Moore. “The earlier series was about the memory that endures, so maybe these scraps could speak to that slow deletion.”
Dust features sculptures made from the glittering shards that landed on Moore’s cutting room floor. In his past work, the artist has taken pains to leave the flawed surfaces of the tableware relatively untouched. “In this series, I’m letting my own personal narrative of how I connect with the material be much more a part of what the viewer sees, or how I talk about it,” Moore says. “My fingerprints are now becoming patina marks on all of this.”
The exhibition also includes a new series of intaglio prints that show intricate tableware patterns fading away. Despite his recent meditations on memory’s decay, Moore can’t fully shake his earlier idea of objects as reliquaries of experience. “The child from the tombstone family believes that there is still this memory in there,” Moore says. “We wouldn’t still be talking about how much objects have a hold on us unless there was something deeply invested in it.”