What came first for you painting or jewelry?
That’s a tough question! Honestly I’ve been doing them both ever since I can remember, but I think painting….much easier to give to a 3 year old than jewelry!
Even though you set out on a more academic path, can you recall any artistic things in your childhood that were a sign you’d go in this direction?
I’ve ALWAYS done art and crafts of some kind, gifts for Xmas/Hanukkah were usually from art supplies and craft kits. In high school I worked at Gallery 37 where students got paid to make art and also at International Bead in Chicago, where I learned more about the jewelry making world. I decided however, not to go the traditional art school route because I already knew that art was my thing but was there more???? Going to Rutgers was perfect because I got to have both, Fine Art and Anthropology.
How does your degree in Anthropology spill over into your artistic work?
For me Anthropology is and has been a great source of inspiration….I love to read about and travel the world, mentally and physically taking notes of what amazing patterns, colors and designs that different cultures are creating; for religious purposes, for status, etc. I’m a little bit of a nerd! I am also inspired by nature, so I think there is a sort of a universal element/feeling to my work that refers back to many cultures and people of the world and make the pieces somehow familiar.
What were your initial plans after college before you decided to pursue art?
After college was a super scary time for me. I honestly had NO idea what I was going to do! I had pressure from the family to get a 9-5, pressure from my art teachers to continue painting. So what did happen was I got a couple of crazy random jobs; working at Macy’s as a visual merchandiser, working for this Orthodox Jewish company as a gift box/tchotchke designer (interesting experience since I’m half Jewish, half black), selling my hand-painted t-shirts in Soho, then finally settling for 3.5 years as the head designer of a costume jewelry company, all the while running my own business on the side. Overall, there was no plan which some people might think is crazy…but it just had to be that way for me to find the right path.
Any familiar faces in your pieces so far?
So far I’ve been able to get my work onto actress Felicia Rashad, the music artist Baron (recently won an award at the Out Music Awards), & reality TV star Michelle Money from The Bachelor.
What are your musical influences?
I’m answering this as I dance around to some Indie dance music on Jango….Chromeo, Bonafied Lovin (Yuksek remix!)Indie dance sort of helps me work…gets the juices flowing! Honestly I listen to almost everything under the sun from newer artists like Alice Russell & Vampire Weekend to older artists like Deniece Williams and Fleetwood Mac.
Any plans to move into clothing?
Yes definitely! I’ve already stated to take my couture work to that level, making a dresses and body jewelry pieces for clients. I’m working on another dress as we speak! The irony is that I hate sewing and pattern making. When I’m using my (self-taught) techniques with suede I’m able to get away with minimal sewing. Clothing is a whole new world, I love it because I view the whole process through the lens of an artist more so than a fashion designer…to me they are functional sculptures.
You’re originally from Chicago but currently live in Brooklyn, how does NYC inspire you?
NYC is a huge melting pot of cultures, which I love (especially being from a mixed background). Also, it’s a place for art, making, selling and inspiring! Which if you couldn’t tell by now, art is a big part of who I am. NYC inspires me overall to follow my dreams and passions, it’s a place for working and getting things accomplished and there is an urgency for this all the time here…if you don’t how will the rent get paid!?