Man has always envied the flight of birds and has attempted to emulate them since ancient times. Storytelling is full of flight lore. Think of the Greek hero Icarus, the winged Aztec gods in human form, and Leonardo da Vinci's airplane designs. In the Wings of Desire collection, the precious materials of goldsmithery depict winged creatures as they have been conjured throughout history. The collection is divided into three cycles that chart an evolution from nature to fantasy: the Falconi, the Superheroes, and the Fantasy Birds.
With the Falconi, I sought to express the complex domestic relationship between man and animal. I was inspired by the urban hawk's highly evolved existence in the wilds of New York City. The three pieces portrayed here-the Landing Hawk, the Nesting Hawk, and the Embracing Hawks-were influenced by the work of naturalist illustrators, such as John James Audubon and Mark Catesby.
The Superheroes move away from nature and history into the realm of mythology. In every artistic tradition, beginning with the first cave paintings, man has paid homage to animals, idealizing their beauty and power and fixing them eternally in the collective imagination. I have created five rings for Superheroes: a swan, a winged lion, a winged gazelle, a Pegasus, and a Hippocampus. I present each animal in a statuesque pose, placed on a pedestal. Each seems to have just landed from another realm, with details that are evidence of its earthly and celestial origins.
After moving from the naturalistic to the mythological, we arrive at the fantastic with the Fantasy Birds. The series began with a wisp of watercolor on a page-the trace of a wing, a hint of motion, a blur of plumage. I sought to capture the birds' lightness of being in these singular creations. Detailed feathers are crafted through the minute application of gemstones set on moving wings that are fluidly attached to a sinuous body. The shapes, movement, and colors merge to create this most elegant of avian species. The Fantasy Birds represent our desire to be freed from all earthly restraint.