All of my artwork is a translation of experiences and observations I had in the natural landscape and its elements.”
—Wolfgang Vaatz, Artist
My career as an artist started in 1986. Throughout my exploration of different media over the years, starting with painting, followed by sculpting, finally designing and fabricating jewelry, the expression of my art remains the same – translating my experiences of natural landscapes. I feel privileged and grateful by the opportunity to explore actual, remote pristine places in nature and filter them through my senses and thought process which I then share through art.
I started working as a serious studio jeweler in late 2012. Just after my move to southern Arizona in 2009, my childhood fascination for gems and minerals was rekindled. Transferring my skills as a painter and sculptor, I began to work with natural stones and then precious metals, all the while adjusting and getting comfortable with the much smaller scale of works. My interest has switched from painting with acrylics and mixed media to jewelry which still consists of mountains, deserts, and coastal scenes. The textural appeal of my water sculptures relates to the tactile rich materials I use for my jewelry.
Basically, being self-taught in the field of jewelry, I work through and learn from my mistakes. I apply modified techniques from my sculpting experience which allow me to develop a different approach – creating unusual works that are collected by individuals nationwide and abroad.
In terms of formal training, I shortly attended Munich’s Kunstakademie after finishing high school in Germany; however, I soon left unsatisfied with what the art institute had to offer. Instead, I looked to the Namib desert- Namibia as my country of birth – in search for my voice as an artist. Evidently, I successfully found it and thus started my art career, leading me back to Germany and then continuing to the US. Since 1996, I have been a proud, yet lately, rather concerned US citizen.
In the few years I have been creating jewelry, my work has been greatly recognized. In three consecutive years I have been a Saul Bell Design Award winner (2016 – 2ndplace, 2017 – finalist, 2018 – 1stplace). I have also been a Niche finalist and was named Centurion’s 2018 Emerging Designer winner. An image of my Aspen cuff has been published in SNAG’s (Society of North American Goldsmiths) first JaMS publication (Jewelry and Metalsmithing Survey). Recently, I won 1stplace in the Resourceful Practices Distinction category and Honorable Mention for Custom Design Distinction in the prestigious 2018 MJSA Vision Awards.
My work continues to be featured in exhibitions and fine jewelry art galleries in the US and Germany.
“Being a professional artist for 30 years, I have chosen jewelry since 2014 as a medium to carry my interpretations of an undisturbed natural world – to emphasize its intrinsic value and preciousness. Nature is essential for us living on earth.
Inspired by travels to the western states, landscape inspired pieces depict through intimate detail peaceful scenes in nature. Although these scenes do not include grand vistas of tourist attractions, they are perfect in their own way.
However, my nature scenes are not merely decorations; they are statements engaging the viewer/ wearer to be a steward of our natural world. Each piece invites the viewer to experience a ‘living moment’ through the depicted locale.”
About Materials Used:
The natural gold I use is unrefined placer gold. Placer gold is gold which is eroded from its host rock and moved by water to different deposit locations. The smoothened edges of the nuggets and gold flakes are the result of the tumbling action in the rivers. California placer gold is obtained in an environmentally friendly way by individuals, using hand tools which have a minimal impact on the environment. I like to obtain the material directly from miners or trusted gold dealers, specializing in CA gold. The natural gold I select is 22 karat or more.
All metal used is sustainable material made with reclaimed/recycled or certifiably ethically mined metal.
All non-facet cut stones are cut by the artist.