I am a New Yorker. I never imagined I would live anywhere else, nor wish to. When my life took an unexpected turn and I found myself living in Los Angeles, New York’s inverse image, I struggled with the change in lifestyle.
NY is fast, LA is slow. New Yorkers work for a living, Angelenos meditate and do yoga. New Yorkers socialize and walk dogs; Angelenos race riot while wild animals howl in canyons. New York offers itself to you, heart on sleeve while L.A. I couldn't really find, despite being in it; “It’s is behind the hedges,” a friend told me. My adopted city was a mystery and I needed a way of understanding it, and decided this journey would inform my next project.
The healthy and “spiritual” LA lifestyle is integrally bound to nature and the landscape, particularly the desert: infinite, horizontal horizons encourage one to look inward. Self-discovery, the exploration of inner space, are luxuries one can’t afford in NY, which is anything but spiritual, or horizontal, and which has none of the nature and none of the space. I didn’t consider myself to be either mystical or spiritual, but I realized that they were in some way an important aspect of Californian culture. L.A. is mysterious, but it might also be mystical.
After a trip to Aldous Huxley’s house in the desert outside LA I revisited his work, which in turn led me back to William Blake. I came to appreciate the two writers’ roles in California mysticism, specifically the psychedelic counter-culture, which is all so contrary to New York culture and this became the inspiration for my new collection.
Blake’s famous line, “The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom” inspired the first piece, a bracelet… I have often used popular culture in my work and the colorful LSD tabs of the ‘60s and ‘70s, iconic counter-cultural artifacts, offered me a means of playing with the history and culture that intrigued me. But a second conceptual layer interested me - many of the tabs, and the counter-culture itself, are loaded with icons and symbols of spiritual significance that are commonly found in the lexicon of jewelry: the Eye of Horus, Om, Yin-yang and so forth. These symbols are typically “free-floating” in jewelry - empty gestures without context. What is the relationship between jewelry and spirituality, and our desire to bestow the former with amuletic power? I hope to add historical dimension to these familiar symbols and, perhaps, to question the unearned talismanic power ascribed them by the jewelry world. So, while having fun with these bright historical artifacts, I am also attempting something self-reflexive in that this, on one level, is jewelry about jewelry.
At the same time, LSD blotters are loaded with something hidden, soaked with a very real power of their own, one that might genuinely offer the individual a “mystical” or “spiritual” experience, or to open another world, thereby adding to their iconic mystique and outlasting their status as printed ephemera.
These printed ephemera and all the mystery they represent I hope to capture and render permanent in some way through California Dreaming and the Blake pieces that accompany the collection. They are both an interpretation of, and tribute to, my once adopted home whose meaning remains elusive to me although in a way I have come to embrace.
Sehti Na holds a BFA in sculpture from Parsons School of Design. Her jewelry has been featured in publications worldwide including American Vogue, British Vogue, ELLE, Harpers Bazaar, amongst others. Her first creation, The Wish Charm sold to over 300 retailers worldwide, and pioneered the concept of making of a wish through a piece of jewelry, a charm. In 2007, her line Mine Jewelry was a semi-finalist for the Ecco Domani Fashion Awards. Her designs and collections have been sold to Moda Operandi, Barney’s, Takashimaya, Collete, Bon Marche, Fred Segal, Beams, Opening Ceremony, MOMA Shop and many other fine retailers. She has designed for Itochu Corporation- Japan, Edun, Devi Kroell and Colette - Paris. Supporters include Kate Moss, Sara Jessica Parker, Sophia Coppola, Rhianna and many others.
Sehti lives in New York and Los Angeles with her husband and two wild cats.