We are honored to chat with one of our favorite Judaica artists today: Marla Wallerstein of MarLa Studio! Her jewelry is edgy and soulful, made from strong metals and leather. Perfect for both men and women to show their style and Jewish pride.
Have you always been an artist? How did you get started?
I’ve been making art and objects since I can remember. After getting a BFA & MFA, teaching college and high school art and creating miles of “fine art”, I switched my focus to metalsmithing, started my brand MarLa studio, and haven’t looked back. The collections consist of versatile, meaningful pieces that elevate any look with a subtle, sophisticated rock-n-roll vibe.
Your pieces are strong and soulful. What inspires you?
Thanks so much for saying that! I make the pieces I want to wear, the pieces I'm longing for myself. I'm inspired by everything from the sounds and style of 1970's NYC rock n roll icons like Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground, Patti Smith and the Ramones to ancient Hebrew history, text, and prayers. Even the most minimalist pieces are designed to have a presence with either an obvious/direct meaning or more subtle/abstract meaning. I'm always inspired by seeing how others wear and layer my work - inspired and honored.
Tell us about your Hebrew collection.
The Hebrew collection was my first collection and the cornerstone of the brand. I speak Hebrew and chose parts of prayers I always found particularly poetic and universal for the Hebrew round pendants. Phrases like "With all your heart, with all your soul, with all your might", have a mantra-like quality to me. I also love how old prayer book Hebrew looks and feels on these pieces. I needed to make the Jewish/spiritual jewelry that I always wanted but never found. I intend to expand the Hebrew collection this year, stay tuned!
What are you working on next?
I've been intending to create a physical Jewish Star. I have a smaller pendant - the Keepsake Star, an etched Jewish Star with shimmery hand-engraved lines radiating around it, however, I've been wanting to create a sculpted star... it's coming. I feel that identifying yourself as Jewish with a Star is a bold move no matter the time or place you live in. The Star is something I've had to work up to, it's possibly the most challenging of the Jewish oriented piece I'll ever make. Also, there are requested phrases I've been promising to add to the Hebrew collection and will finally make good on that! In addition, I've been expanding the line with a leather collection, mostly bags.
Anything else you'd like to add!
Amy, I am so honored to have my work in your offerings. ModernTribe is an incredible vision to be part of. I love working with you and look forward to more awesome collaboration!!