Muse Spotlight

Rachel Bu

Artist | Designer | Sculptor

Artistry can be described as the application of skill and innate ability which yields something beautiful. To observe nature is to acknowledge that artistry may be inherent. The oxidation of stone into striated, painterly crimson canyons is a physical process. It isn’t the result of an application of skill or technical ability. It is a result of pressure and time.

This delicate balance, this juxtaposition of the human and the natural so too applies to the world of Authorne. The collection brings to life intricate, biographically-laden sculptural objects as wearable art. Inspired by each individual and their respective experiences, the motifs ebb and flow, taking on new meaning and distinct perspective. These symbols are not fixed, but rather dynamic and progressive.

“As an immigrant child, I wonder if wanderlust was built into me rather than innate.”

The magic of nature is not lost on Authorne’s founder, contemporary jewelry artist Rachel Bu. “The yearning for travel and exploration stems from a deep human need to broaden our perspective, challenge our assumptions, and discover new ways of living.”

Following a westward yearning, Bu recently visited Canyon Point, Utah, a secluded desert site with expansive vistas, rockscapes, and mineral-laden air. This desire to expand horizons and perspectives is not new to Bu, a Chinese-Canadian dwelling in New York City. “As an immigrant child, I wonder if wanderlust was built into me rather than innate.”  Having been born in China, Bu muses on her memory of the transition to Canada at the age of 9. “I don't remember much of that morning, but I remember arriving at a family friend's house in the suburbs with our luggage. I remember the damp smell of dawn, the unfamiliar scent of freshly cut lawn, and me staring at this house that looked like it belonged in storybooks.” In describing this formative moment, Bu concludes: “I did not choose to explore a new way of living, nor did I choose to challenge my assumptions. It was "forced" upon me in a good way. Yet this initial challenge took away the fear of being in unfamiliar places and being out of my comfort zone. It was the beginning of my wanderlust.”

"A play on duality is what drives my personal aesthetic and gives my designs their edge.”

It is perhaps an extension of the artist’s comfort amidst the unknown that drew her to the arid desert of Utah in spring of 2023. “I often find inspiration in mythology and folklore. They involve oral traditions, passing down stories about legends and mythical creatures. They serve as repositories of cultural knowledge, moral teachings, and collective memories,” states Bu. With its mythic leaning Joshua tree, guiding pioneers evermore forward, it is appropriate for the artist to find herself reminiscing about personal expansion in such an auspicious environment.

Inspiration and artistry is never far from Bu’s mind: “The desert taught me to appreciate both the macro and micro aspects of nature and life. While grand landscapes like the canyons and mesas inspire awe with their vastness, yet the beauty and significance of smaller, intricate elements in the desert should not be overlooked.” Particularly, she was drawn to “delicate pink feather-like flowering plants called Apache Plume shrubs. Despite their delicate appearance, their ability to adapt and thrive in extreme conditions is inspiring. They demonstrate the incredible potential for life to persist and flourish even in the most challenging environments.”

The refinement of her designs reflects this appreciation for the minute details, for the symbolism of metamorphosis, of grit, and the dichotomy of power wielded with grace. So too is her aesthetic rooted in a negotiation of minimalism versus maximalism:

“It's not necessarily a matter of being strictly one or the other, but rather finding a harmonious balance between the two. As you delve deeper into Authorne’s motifs, you come to realize that ideologies can be interchangeable, and concepts are not necessarily mutually exclusive or static. Existence is never binary: East or West, black or white, light or dark, he or she, angel or devil. A play on duality is what drives my personal aesthetic and gives my designs their edge.”

Cherishing the lessons of the desert, and those accrued through a life driven by wanderlust, Bu employs a lifestyle of thoughtful recollection, curiosity, and intentionality.

“For me, Authorne is rooted in the desire to create jewelry that can solidify a memory and encapsulate a moment, becoming a tangible reminder of cherished memories. I believe my sculptural practice has helped me develop an eye for form and composition, which translates well into creating wearable art pieces.”

And with this in mind, one revisits the mighty Cicada, the nurturing Mother, the auspicious Guardians, the coy Octopus, and the dully-faceted Angel and Devil. We see that with time, under pressure, and with the attention to the physical qualities, so too have these symbols been mythologized, carved, into our consciousness and made to hold timeless meaning.

Written By:
Tai Lee
Photography By:
Tai Lee