Vivian Cavalieri

Vivian Cavalieri

Chincoteague Island, VA, United States

About Vivian Cavalieri

I enjoy creating a unified whole out of seemingly unrelated components, achieving balance through intricate juxtapositions of color, form and texture. I consciously avoid using symmetry to achieve balance.

With a sense of color and a playful style inspired by my Venetian heritage and by that city’s once-prevalent glass torsades, I have for many years created opulent, multi-strand necklaces that combine Murano glass with other rich components, including amber, freshwater pearls and semi-precious stones. A few years ago, I was impelled towards a related artistic enterprise.

Inspired by Joseph Cornell's shadow boxes and Paul Klee's sense of humor, I began constructing surrealistic assemblages around segments of my necklaces. Each assemblage is an intimate work of art with its own theme. I combine my necklace segments with a wide range of seemingly unrelated components — such as dollhouse miniatures, realistic animal models, textured fabrics, found objects and manipulated photographs. I strive to present even those works inspired by more serious themes — such as light pollution or shrinking polar ice — with subtlety, gentle humor and whimsy.

Though many designs appear simple, each work in fact takes several months to create. The final version is rarely the one initially envisioned; the laws of gravity force numerous adjustments. Execution involves a multitude of skills, some of which are acquired specifically to achieve the desired artistic result. In fact, it took several years of experimenting before I even hit upon a technique for creating assemblages.

The framing process is itself a component of the work, both conceptually and artistically. Though the frame is clean and modern in appearance, the framing process is not as simple as it seems. The determination whether to create a "room" (as with Born Free) or an intimate atmosphere (as with What Price Silence) is in fact part of the artistic process.

Works are custom framed to provide sufficient depth to accomplish my artistic goals as well as to support the weight of the work (often 40-60 pounds). The 4-inch deep decorative wooden frame curves outward to bring the work closer to the viewer.

As many designs are supported by the base as well as the backing, the framing process can be tricky. It took several months of experimentation to determine how to create a work that it was practical to frame. The glass protects the work from damaged caused by dust and dusting. As shade and color intensity are critical to me, all works are framed using museum glass.


BA in Fine Arts, Harvard University