Alanis Morissette may have her jagged little pills. But Sarah McLachlan's are smooth and silver, and they adorn her ears, wrists and hands.
McLachlan, you see, is a big fan of Colleen Wolstenholme, a Canadian sculptor whose side business is making silver jewelry from castings of actual pills, mostly antidepressants. The singer-songwriter, who considers Wolstenholme her oldest friend, had the artist join her for part of the Lilith Fair concert tour this summer to sell her wares.
McLachlan owns a Paxil bracelet, a Paxil ring and earrings that say "PMS," which stands for a morphine-based drug. And, perhaps as a token offering to ward off stress, McLachlan's bedecked all the women on her Lilith crew with the jewelry.
"It's aesthetically pleasing. They are beautiful pieces," McLachlan says. "They look cool."
Paxil, Zoloft, Serzone, Xanax, Dexedrine and several morphine-based drugs are in Wolstenholme's pharmacological palette, pills she got mostly from friends. She recently sold Dilaudid, reportedly William Burrough's drug of choice, at a discount in honor of the writer's death. There's no Prozac, however, because it's a capsule that doesn't survive the casting process.
Did McLachlan worry that those who struggle with depression might find the jewelry offensive?
"I don't think Colleen takes it as a joke at all," McLachlan says. "She's more angry. ... She considers it kind of like a medal of honor, like `I've been through it.
A certified metalsmith, Wolstenholme was teaching jewelry-making when she got the inspiration to make her pill art, which ranges in price from $20 to $75.
"It seemed that a lot of my female friends were having a real hard time coping," says Wolstenholme, who briefly took Zoloft and Paxil herself. Plus, she says, there's a sociological aspect of jewelry she wanted to explore.
"In the West, men use jewelry as a method of marking their territory - like the diamond necklace or the diamond ring. If you look at the DeBeers diamond ads, it's really evident that that's what they're playing on," she says. "Because of the kind of insanity that that attitude towards women breeds, I thought it would be appropriate if they were wearing antidepressants around their necks instead of diamond solitaires."
She also wanted to give a Prozac nation a message that, while not quite in their face, would at least be around their neck.
"I wanted to draw attention to the fact that our culture is becoming more and more reliant on (drug taking) and less and less reliant on finding the causes of the problems," Wolstenholme says.
"I like finding objects that are culturally loaded. ... I don't like to shove it down their throats."
Uh, no pun intended.
Wolstenholme sells her jewelry by phone, at (902) 425-0178, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
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