Sunday, September 16, 2018

An Abundant Life - Interconnectedness And Continuity

I met Tassa Theocharis Ganidou in person after being introduced to her gorgeous wearable art through her posts on Instagram. She lives in Greece, and had shown her work at Papatzikou Gallery, a gallery there that is owned by Vicky Papatzikou, and when I commented on how beautiful the photos in the post were, she responded with a lovely thank you and we began following each other. Then early last spring I saw in one of her posts that she would be in New York City at the Museum of Art and Design, also known as MAD, for their annual art and design exhibition and sale "LOOT, MAD About Jewelry." I had walked by the museum many times, and I had visited their lovely gift shop when I was holiday and birthday shopping for myself and special friends and family members, and it was so exciting to know that this amazing artist would be showing her work in such a wonderful space that I sent her a message to ask if there was a way I could meet her when she was in town. She responded with a link for me to contact the organizers of LOOT, and one lovely afternoon I found myself at the Press Preview for one of the most fabulously creative and gorgeous art and design shows in town. There were so many lovely artists and artisans showing incredibly creative and beautiful work that day, but I have to say that I kept coming back to visit with Tassa at her table because she and her work are simply extraordinary. She introduced me to some of the other artists and designers, and I took photographs of her work and theirs for future posts. I was hoping that we'd be able to meet again for a more in depth discussion while she was in Manhattan because I wanted to write a blog post about her, but her schedule and mine were busy and she was only in town for a short time, most of which would be focused around the wonderful wearable art and jewelry design show.  I have kept the photos I took that day in a place where I would be constantly reminded, because I wanted to write the blog post about this extraordinary artist even if we did not meet again in person.

I contacted her recently to see if she could send me some information about her life and work, and I'll add that here so you can get to know a little bit more about her:

"Having spent all my summers close to Greek nature from an early age, I have felt the need to capture a part of it. Images, sounds, material, wood, stones, fruit, fish and birds and the sun started taking substance in the form of jewels, early creations which I was able to wear and feel incredibly strong while wearing. I do not recall the manufacturing - part improvisation and part of the moment. What I do recall is a sense of fulfillment coming out of the process.

"Eventually I studied Design and Manufacturing of handmade and cast jewelry at MOKUME Silversmithing and Jewelry Design Academy in Thessaloniki and modern art jewelry in Florence at Le Arti Orafe Jewelry School Academy. I attended courses at the Gemmological Association of Great Britain, and at Act's Education Center. still use those natural materials of the past combined with silver, gold, and precious stones. 

"Sun, fish and birds have become symbols through a different conceptual approach.This time I placed them inside the "womb" and they denote in three different units, the Conception, Incubation and Birth of anything material or immaterial we are surrounded by. About two years ago I was invited to move jewelry away from the body into space through the view of pieces of non-wearable jewelry using formative techniques of jewelry making. As a result, by playing with the scale and the materials, I have been creating a series of jewelry sculptures of a bigger scale which can stand as objects in space."

In the words of Curator Kostis Spanopoulos, "The art work of creator Tassa Theocharis Ganidou is characterized by a unique rendering of contemporary handcrafted jewelry that goes beyond the ordinary and stands biomorphically in the present. This mixed media jewelry with skillfully crafted naturalism combines the characteristics of modern art with jewelry making. The original model is completed as the outcome of experience. Different materials seem to fall in love in the cycle of life creating a conceptual identification with a dual meaning where soft textures interact with solid materials leading to the fruitful, interesting and unprecedented coexistence of materials and manufacturing techniques."

When I contacted Tassa, she told me that she was recently asked to take part in an exhibition in Milan for Fashion Week in February of 2019, "Artistar Jewels 2019," where she will be one of 100 artists who were selected from all over the world. Each work of art she makes is one of a kind, and she also designs special pieces in consultation with people who contact her to discuss custom designs. If you're in Greece, you can visit her studio, and throughout the rest of the world people can contact her through Instagram @__tassa___t2g or by email. Her designs reach into the realm of myth and legend and hover in dreamspace, taking us on a journey through the cycles of life. There is a feeling of watery depths and stones washed up on the beach combined with images of nature, conception, birth and life, and continuity. She seems so young to have a sensibility so deeply carved in history and time and space. The art of Tassa Theocharis Ganidou is timeless as the artist is herself.

Tassa Theocharis Ganidou
At "LOOT, MAD About Jewelry 2018"
Museum Of Art And Design
2 Columbus Circle
New York City

Photos Courtesy Of Tassa Theocharis Ganidou

On Astypalaia Island
Aegean Sea

In The Volcano Of Nisyros Island
Aegean Sea

At Papatzikou Art Gallery

In Xirolivado Village In The Vermio Mountains
Northern Greece


Jannie Susan

Sunday, September 9, 2018

An Abundant Life - Adventurous Beauty

Ranie Khemraj is a beautiful young woman who is not afraid of reinventing herself. Raised in Queens, New York, she received a B.A. in English Literature and worked in the hospitality industry, moving into a position at the Renaissance Hotels when the Midtown location on 35th Street in New York City first opened. She is currently working as a Navigator there, the name the Renaissance Hotels gives to their Concierge because of the very special work they do that is above and beyond a regular Concierge, and it's a title that suits Ranie to perfection. Among other special projects, the every day work of a Navigator is to help find interesting things for the guests of the hotel to explore and to answer questions about the area with knowledge and finesse, guiding guests to the people and places that would most suit their interests, goals and needs while they are visiting the hotel and the city.

When I first met Ranie, I was attending a whiskey tasting event at the Renaissance Midtown, and she answered my questions expertly, while directing me to the people who could give me more information and making introductions to the people who were at the event who could insure that I'd make the connections I needed to learn and know more about the hotel. When I asked if it would be possible to write a blog post about the hotel, she invited me to other events so that I could get a more in depth knowledge of the excellence in service and the cutting edge atmosphere that is available and is a part of the Renaissance boutique hotel experience.

Over time as I got to know Ranie, I started to see that there was even more to her than her already very busy and detail oriented role as a Navigator. Her work as a Navigator would have been enough for me to be interested in writing about her, but as I got the chance to know about some of the other things she was doing, I asked if we could sit down to talk a bit so that I could get a fuller picture of who this woman of mystery was. We met at the hotel for a brief talk so that I could clarify some of my questions, and then she was off to help more guests and make sure that everything was running smoothly for the evening events. It was a very brief talk because she takes her position very seriously, and though there were many questions I had and there are many things that she had to share with me, doing her job with excellence is her highest priority. I asked if she could email me some information, and I'll incorporate some of her own words here because the way that she has of expressing herself is delightful in its honesty, integrity and strength.

She's a beautiful woman, one who is very lovely and like a blooming flower, but like a flower she is strong and resilient, and goes through many phases and times of growth and renewal. She has started modeling, and when I saw her photographs I would have thought that was something that was a part of her history because she is a natural for it, but it is something that has been evolving fairly recently. She also travels all over the world, not as part of her job but because she loves to do it, enjoying each journey as a new adventure. She embraces change and growth and renewal, and faces new experiences head on, taking care to celebrate life and caring for the path she is on as a part of her own growth and personal journey. She writes a blog, and posts on Instagram @__lirio_de_los_valles__, and the stylist for her modeling is Ricardo Poulard who is on Instagram @primproperbrothers. Ricardo is the owner of Prim & Proper BrothersTM and is a Brand Manager, Image Consultant and Stylist. He has worked with Garรงon Couture, Dleak Bow Ties and Pstudios as well as being the personal stylist to Ranie Khemraj. As a bio that Ranie shared with me describes him, "His vision and creativity goes beyond your imagination. He is always looking for new ways to be innovative in the fashion world. The sky is the limit and there is no stopping him."

Along with the beautiful photos that Ranie shared with me for this blog, she wrote some words about herself and her personal exploration and journey: "This blog is reinventions of myself and how far I have come – being comfortable in my own skin and understanding and accepting my flaws as progression in my life. Learning to change with every passing day to improve myself to be a better person. Modeling is an outlet to expressing and embracing my sexuality as an older woman. I have a great passion for traveling the world and intend to see as many countries as possible in this life time. I love unique food adventure and like to eat locally when I travel. The best way to experience a culture is through history and food. Favorite quote: "If you're going through hell, keep going." – Churchill. Why I name my blog A Lily of the Valley: - despite the lack of sunlight it still grows. Hence, despite all life has thrown at me I will still: Smile, Shine and be Happy; I owe that to myself."

I can agree that she still smiles, shines and radiates happiness - she brightens the rooms she is in with her lovely smile all the time. But I will disagree that she's an older woman - she may feel that way because of her personal maturity and some life experiences that have been challenging, and she is very serious about doing her work in the best way possible, but there is a charming and youthful quality about her that is the very essence of that Lily of the Valley - a flower both tender and sweet as it grows with resilience and brightens the paths of others around it. 

At The Renaissance New York Midtown Hotel
New York City

Ranie Khemraj Around The World
Photographs Courtesy of Ranie Khemraj

Tuileries Garden

Le Mur Des Je T'Aime

Berlin Cathedral

Notre-Dame De Paris

Mont Des Arts - Brussels

New York City
Stylist Ricardo Poulard 

Reichstag Dome

A Gorgeous Model
Stylist Ricardo Poulard 
Photographs Courtesy Of Ranie Khemraj


Jannie Susan