Jane Silvernail and her husband David will present “Eclectic Interpretations” at The Art Studio, Inc., beginning Nov. 6, 2021.

Silvernails to exhibit their creations at TASI

Jane and David Silvernail surround themselves with “stuff.” Jane’s workspace is full of what many people would consider junk but is just art that hasn’t found a place yet. David surrounds himself with the tools of his artistic trade, — carving – and both find tranquility in the process. 

The couple will present “Eclectic Interpretations,” opening 7 to 10 p.m., Nov. 6, at The Art Studio, Inc.  

Jane creates assemblages from found objects, and David is a woodcarver. David said Jane has always had a knack for putting things in just the right place, whether it is decorating their Lumberton home or in her artwork. 

“I enjoy the designing part of it and the juxtaposition of pieces,” Jane said. “I work on multiple pieces at once because of the drying time and the design time, because if I’m not happy with something, I’ll put it aside and come back to it. It could be as little as three days or as much as months.” 

David used to assemble model ships, but they were large, and the couple didn’t have place for them. So, he needed a new hobby. He visited a local woodcarving club in 1998 and was hooked. His work certainly reflects the show’s title, with a variety of subjects from animals to people, and even robots.  

David Silvernail shows off a “book nook” that represents the ancient city of Petra which was carved into rock. He and his wife Jane will present “Eclectic Interpretations” which opens Nov. 6 at The Art Studio, Inc.

As well as wood, David has several “book nooks,” where he creates sculptures out of books. One piece, made from four books, is a representation of Petra in Jordan – an ancient city carved into desert cliffs. David has aphantasia, a condition where he cannot picture objects in his mind, so he works from a variety of images, chipping away until it feels right. Woodcarving is meditative and is his “tranquilizer,” he said. 

“When you’ve got something that sharp in your hands, you tend to pay attention,” he said. 

Before he retired, David owned a business that sold point-of-sale items such as cash registers, scales and restaurant systems. Jane is a retired medical secretary and started collaging when she discovered a website that featured altered trading cards. 

Some of Jane Silvernail’s assemblages.

“They would have different challenges,” she said. “Mostly women would join and then we’d send them all to each other or to one person who would send them back.”  

Jane has collected cards from people all over the world, including Singapore. But after a while, she wanted to move from pasted paper and card stock to items with a heavier substrate. She began to hunt for interesting objects.  

“(I look) everywhere,” Jane said, nodding toward David. “I robbed his workshop. I pick up things off the street. People collect for me at garage sales and flea markets — anything that’s rusted and broken.” 

As well as artist Joseph Cornell, Jane cites Frenchman Gerard Cambon, a self-taught artist whom she discovered on Pinterest, as inspiration.  

For someone who confesses to be too impatient to paint (she studied art at McNeese University), Jane’s process is detailed. She said she drags everything out of the myriad boxes that populate her studio and starts placing things together. If it doesn’t work, she takes it all apart and starts again.  

“Sometimes it just comes together so easily, and I just love it,” she said. “I mostly do it for my enjoyment. I’m glad that other people like it, but I really enjoy it. It’s relaxation for me.” 

Once the design is established, Jane deconstructs it and starts the finished assemblage. 

David Silvernail in his workshop.

“Of course, when I deconstruct it, not all of it gets back where it’s supposed to be, so it can change,” she said. 

Jane challenges herself to use metal, wood and glass in each piece and she said David is her carpenter. 

“He does the screwing and the hammering and cutting,” she said. “He’s my hammer.” 

Jane’s ethic is wabi-sabi, a Japanese aesthetic that is an acceptance of transience and imperfection, she said. 

“It’s like appreciating something that is imperfect and aging, so that’s what I strive for,” she said. “I had a lady at a show once that said that she could tell that I had gone through a lot of trouble to, you know, put this little screw in there and my pieces were definitely not just thrown together. And I just love to hear someone who appreciates it.” 

Jane Silvernail in his workshop.

David’s aesthetic is slightly less philosophical. 

“I just do what I want to do,” he said. “It’s nice when people like it, but I generally don’t do it with other people in mind, I just do things I want to do.” 

“Eclectic Interpretations” is on display through Nov. 24. The Art Studio, Inc. is located at 720 Franklin in downtown Beaumont. For more, visit www.artstudio.org

This story first ran in the Oct. 29 Art of Living section of The Beaumont Enterprise.

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