James Christian - The Jester's Choice
The James Christian Collection bears artist James Christian Stegman’s name almost as a disclaimer, as if to say Fair warning: I’m doing my own thing here.
He describes the James Christian Collection as “the antithesis of being told what to do.” It is his opportunity to be an artist first and foremost. In that spirit, James isn’t big on saying what anyone should think or feel about his creations—each person’s interpretation is unique, and that’s a beautiful thing. But with a little prodding, he shared with us what he was thinking when he made the Choice buckle. Not surprisingly, it was fascinating to hear.
The idea for the buckle came from a reflection on difficult times and the choice we have in facing them with positivity or negativity. Its face consists of two mirrored halves divided by a platinum bar: one an untarnished white gold, the other a vintaged and darkened sterling silver. The setting is reversible, so either side may be mounted on top and changed back and forth with ease.
The two halves, light and dark, feature identical diamonds—one blue and one yellow—and gold jester devices set in symmetrical opposition. The jester, or wise fool, is one of James’ favorite motifs. He represents duality, truth hidden in plain sight; he tells us that reality is as we choose to see it, that light and darkness, wise man and fool, these exist together and by contrast to one another. It is our choice to see one over the other.
James, a born optimist, admits that his perspective is always ‘sunny side up’. His first design drafts of the “Choice” buckle did not include a reversible mount. But ultimately he realized that the choice is meaningful even if one knows the outcome. Because it is the light surrounded by darkness that shines the brightest.