Kiff Slemmons Paper Jewelry

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Kiff Slemmons Paper Jewelry

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Kiff Slemmons
Paper Jewelry
Colored Paper

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Kiff Slemmons (b.1944) is a contemporary American metalsmith. She received her B.A. in Art and French at the University of Iowa, but is primarily known for her career in jewelry and metals. Slemmons is known for the use of plants; majahua, agave and cotton, to construct her jewelry as well as the use of natural and synthetic traditional dyes as indigo, cochineal and ochre.  Each aspect of the process holds a special significance in Mexico.

In 1967, Slemmons drove to Mexico for a two week visit to Monte Albán, a pre-Columbian archaeological site in  the southern state of Oaxaca.  There, Ms. Slemmons was struck by the jewelry in Tomb 7, which, in addition to gold and silver, was made of materials including shell, coral, amber, pearls, turquoise, obsidian and bone. The diversity of the pieces inspired in her a seminal interest in ethnic jewelry and, she said, “the language of materials, their possibility for metaphor and the idea of array.” It was an interest that would stay with her over her career.

More than three decades later, the inspiration that Ms. Slemmons found in Oaxaca came full circle.  In 2000, she was invited by Francisco Toledo, a Mexican artist and cultural activist, to create jewelry designs for the Taller Arte Papel Oaxaca, a workshop he set up in 1998 to make handmade paper and products like blank books, kites and boxes for sale in local boutiques. - Amy Yee, New York Times, 2012