Adornment and Torment, art, Assad Mounser, Chloe Angelides, Chris Bernabeo, dark temptations, design, emotions, enchantment, england, Henry Mounser, history, jewelry, jewelry design, Kelly DeKenipp, long island, metalsmithing, new york, Pratt's Junior Jewelry Review, Sayville Advocates of the Visual Arts Fine Artist award, torture, torture chambers, whimsy
“This allows for an awareness of darkness to exist in light.” If this statement intrigues you, then so will Kelly DeKenipp’s work. Built through concepts of traumatic emotional experiences and dark temptations, her pieces translate the realities of uneasy and somber motifs into objects of everyday wear. “My jewelry is executed with a sense of enchantment, paired with whimsical elements,” explains the designer.
Born and raised on Long Island, DeKenipp was always inspired by emotional experiences and romantic ideas. As a child she loved creating with her hands and crafted various jewelry pieces as well as small objects from paper and fabrics. In high school she won the Sayville Advocates of the Visual Arts Fine Artist award as well as a local jewelry design contest. She was destined to pursue an education in fine arts and followed that path by attending Pratt Institute in New York. During the Spring of 2012, she was awarded second place at Pratt’s Junior Jewelry Review and is graduating this year with a BFA in Fine Arts with a concentration in jewelry design.
For her thesis show, titled “Adornment and Torment” this April, she plans to unveil a collection that is highly influenced by objects of torture. Traveling to England a few years ago, Kelly was drawn to the deep secrets hidden inside the area’s castles, the historic torture chambers.
“Each object held a reflection of its past and was beautiful in form. I researched the romantic history of these objects and took notice of their physical forms and structures. The shadows left from the act of torture and the dramatic forms of various torture objects directly guided my design process.”
DeKenipp’s ability to turn the dark and fearful into something fresh, modern, and beautiful is effortlessly shown through her work. The idea of romance is also brilliantly expressed through the use of specific materials and whimsical elements. “Silver is used to construct the forms and gold leaf adds a perceived value to the pieces. The beautiful forms and choice of materials allow the work to be cherished and worn as a treasured object.”
The structural form of the artist’s pieces clearly represent her muse, and while objects of torture may seem scary and obtrusive, this collection oddly expresses wholeness, spunk and beauty. All the while, allowing hints of history to carry through so the original qualities aren’t lost but are remembered as remnants of the past.
Whenever one can strip away the outside layers of an object and see beyond its original intent, is remarkable in itself. Creating a new and unique experience for the object to be a part of and carrying on its essence in a totally different light, is a talent you rarely see. It’s pretty clear DeKenipp has embraced what life has thrown her way and developed a special vision from what she has experienced. The talent was always there, she just brought it to life for all to see.
I was excited to review pieces from this anticipated collection and have the opportunity to ask the artist a few questions to find out more.
(1) Are there any specific experiences in your life that have directly influenced your work?
All my work is inspired from personal experience. The designs of the jewelry in “Adornment and Torment” are inspired from a trip I took in 2009 to England. The concept derives from accepting bad energies that come into my life and being able to manipulate and transform them into positive energy.
(2) What artists/designers do you admire?
Louise Nevelson, Daniel Brush, and Alexander McQueen
(3) Are there any materials you strongly feel connected to, and if so, what role do they play in your work?
Most of my work is made in metal, especially in my current collection. It is what I am most comfortable working with. In the past I have used alternative materials such as human hair, dollhouse furniture, fur, and photographs.
(4) How do you feel school has prepared you for a career in jewelry design?
My education has prepared me to be a professional working artist. In my senior seminar class we learn to establish our own businesses. My program has also allowed for many connections to working artists and designers in my field to be made.
(5) The work you are presenting for “Adornment and Torment” are influenced by objects of torture. What has the process been like to create all these pieces?
I have had to separate myself from what the objects history are and their relationship to humanity. I focus mainly on the forms and remind myself that through this body of work I am giving these objects new meaning. I am taking a very dark concept and transforming it into something of delicacy and beauty.
Photo by Chris Bernabeo
(6) What are your plans after you graduate?
After graduation, I plan to build my own studio space. This way I can continue to hand make jewelry. My work will continue to be inspired by the concepts of my current collection. I also plan to make jewelry using collage, directly inspired from memories and the emotions they evoke in a specific person.
(7) How do you think your design aesthetic influences your personal style?
In fashion I am attracted to simpler styles with some edge to them. When designing, I look for dark and fantastical motifs to work with, I’d say I look for the same while shopping for clothes. I wear a lot of black.
(8) Since your work revolves around emotions and experience, what role do you feel it plays in society?
I create a new way to look at emotional experiences. An actual emotion is transformed into something of substance that you can feel and wear. You can carry this emotion with you or leave it at home. The goal of my work is to capture a feeling and preserve it in a piece of jewelry.
Photo by Chris Bernabeo