It’s always fascinating to see common objects, like pencils, used in unexpected and amazing ways—Jennifer Maestre’s art is one such example. The Massachusetts-based artist creates alien-like sea creature sculptures made from hundreds of colored pencils. Though her vibrantly colorful pieces are beautiful and attractive, many of the pencils are sharpened into dangerous needle-like points to mimic defense mechanisms found in nature.
In her artist’s statement, Maestre credits the original inspiration for her art to the form and function of sea urchins. She said she was drawn to the urchin’s beautiful yet dangerous spines, as well as that tension we feel between the desire to touch and the repulsion to pain. The artist captures this feeling of push and pull in her handmade pencil sculptures that combine smooth and sharp surfaces, from the flat pencil ends and overlapped shavings to the sharpened points.
“Paradox and surprise are integral in my choice of materials,” writes Maestre. “Quantities of industrially manufactured objects are used to create flexible forms reminiscent of the organic shapes of animals and nature. Pencils are common objects, here, these anonymous objects become the structure. There is true a fragility to the sometimes brutal aspect of the sculptures, vulnerability that is belied by the fearsome texture.” The sculptures are made from pencils cut into one-inch sections that she then drills to turn into beads. The pencils are sharpened and sewn together, often with a peyote stitch technique.