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Craft in America


Slemmons, widely-acclaimed for her metal-based jewelry practice, has transferred her decades-long experience and understanding of jewelry’s potential to paper. The results yield formal explorations into the role of abstraction, color, pattern, and structure. Slemmons is a profound artist who approaches jewelry as objects that convey thoughts and ideas. Her to texture and line allows for constant ingenuity. Since paper has been a serendipitous medium for the artist to pursue, her investigations have resulted in striking and visually arresting works of beauty.

In 2000, Slemmons was invited by pioneering Mexican artist and advocate Francisco Toledo to collaborate with Taller Arte Papel of Oaxaca, a paper-making cooperative founded in 1998 by Toledo to invigorate the local economy via artistic practices. Despite her initial trepidation, Slemmons accepted his offer and she has been working with the cooperative ever since. At the outset, the Taller had not made jewelry and Slemmons had not worked with paper, yet both synergized and have since produced remarkable work. By working with the Taller, Slemmons continues to invigorate a local renewable resource, i.e. paper, while activating the local artisans to generate new, wearable works of creative capital that are sustainable as well. This cross-pollination surpasses geographic and cultural borders.

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An exhibition of paper jewelry by Kiff Slemmons executed during her residencies at Taller Arte Papel in Oaxaca, Mexico. This long-standing and ongoing partnership that began eighteen years ago has taken Slemmons’s work into new realms of form and materiality. The exhibition title references not only how each piece is crafted bead by bead through a process of collaboration, but also how Slemmons creates a body of work and views the individual pieces as forming one conceptual whole in their totality.

"Paper is the site of poetry,
of drawing
and in the case of jewelry,
the unexpected site of both."
-Kiff Slemmons

Photos by Madison Metro