Photo Credit: Maureen
The Black Expat: 'I'm A Black Woman From Suriname Living In The Netherlands'
Maureen Vorswijk, is a Black woman jewelry designer from Suriname, currently living in the Netherlands.
Her artwork combines African ancient times with a futuristic look through her company Mauke V Jewlery. Born in Suriname, Vorswijk emigrated to the Netherlands with her family when she was only 1 year old. Being the only Black family in a small village called Heemskerk, she learned since her infancy how to deal with racism in this European country.
“I started to deal with racism when I was 5. But my parents taught me and my siblings how to deal with it. My parents always told me to never forget where we come from and that I should honor my Afro-Surinamese culture, traditions and my Blackness,” Vorswijk told Travel Noire.
She also said that she worked hard to concentrate on her goals and not let racism or any distractions stop her projects.
“The older I get, the better I know how to deal with racism and other challenging issues within the Dutch society such as discrimination based on gender, religion, status, sexual preferences, for example.”
Through her work, the Suriname born entrepreneur tries to send a message.
“I don’t chase standards that are being put in front of me all the time. I do not want to be put in a box. So what I intend to achieve is to be known as an artist that accomplished a lot with almost no resources when she started her business.”
Vorswijk started her business in Amsterdam in 2010 after working as a dresser and prop designer in the theater industry for 8 years.
“I decided that it was time to pursue my real passion, which is jewelry design. So I followed my passion and started to study to become a goldsmith,” she said.
But, she knew she didn’t want to only be a goldsmith.
“I wanted to incorporate the techniques into my artwork. I wanted to create beautiful pieces for women who appreciated handmade custom jewelry, in order to have total control over the design process and the end result of the creations.”
“I wish there could be also more attention for Afro-Surinamese designers. We have many designers just like me here based in the Netherlands, but we get overlooked,“ she said, adding that the majority of her clients are from outside the Netherlands.
Vorswijk explained that she designs custom-made jewelry, metal corsets and metal wigs all by hand.
“All the pieces I have created were made by what moved me. This natural process has led to the creations of the metal corsets and futuristic metal wigs inspired by ancient African hairstyles. Since I consider myself as an artist rather than a jewelry designer, I feel completely free to offer my clients creations they have never seen before.”
“I can say that everything I did to get where I stand right now as an artist makes sense to me, that is my unique journey and because of that I believe my work can be considered as unique in my field.”