Kelly Jean Conroy

October 06, 2021

Kelly Jean Conroy-Pistachios

Kelly Jean Conroy is featured in our 2021 Exhibition 'Reinventing the Pearl' 
October 1 2021- January 16 2022

Not your grandma's jewelry, artists take a classic material and turn it contemporary. Perfect for wearing next to the fireplace and adding a sparkle to winter. 



Q: Where did you study Jewelry/Metalsmithing and when?

A: I went to Syracuse for Art Education, and took a few jewelry courses while there and fell in love. While working as an art teacher I began self-teaching myself everything I could, and then went back to school for my Master degree at University of Massachusetts Dartmouth for Jewelry Metals and graduated in 2013.


Q: What inspires your work?

A: The life cycles in nature, death and mourning


Q: Do you have a favorite piece you've made?

A: My piece 'rest' was really pivotal, as it combined all the processes I had been exploring within my graduate school experience, as well as, it was the first time I really delved into working with mother of pearl and piercing it with floral imagery. It truly started a trajectory for my production work.


Q: What made you want to start making jewelry?

A: In the beginning, it was really about making accessible small pieces of artwork that could be worn. (I had originally thought of myself as a painter, but realized people ran out of walls) It also was just so fun, and still is!


Q: What is your favorite process? Why that one over others?

A: Thats too tough to answer! I recently has discovered that I have adhd and the way my brain works is like a moth to the brightest flame. (I didnt know this was not normal) I love enameling, I love casting, I love working with mother of pearl, I love setting gemstones, piercing, I love working with natural materials, and lately I've been very into incorporating the laser cutter and working with imagery.


Q: Who is your favorite artist/who do you wear?

A: Some of my favorite jewelry pieces are by Pat Flynn, Gabriella Kiss, Maria Beaulieu, Ted Muehling, Robert Thomas Mullen, Marta Mattsson, Andy Lowrie, Lindsay Miś, Luci Jockel, Talya Kantro, Madison Holler, April Wood


Q: Is there an artist on your personal wishlist that you hope to own one day?

A: I am so lucky to have so much of my wishlist... but future dreams include Melanie Bilenker, Aurelie Guillaume, Mielle Harvey, Judy Geib


Q: What is something you would want someone to know about your work that they might not know?

A: There is often a hidden message


Q: When you're not making jewelry, what are you doing?

A: I am teaching high school metalsmithing (my dream job!) hunting for unique stationary and stickers, and forever searching for the perfect Maine A-frame lakefront summer rental.



Q: Pearls are a widely recognizable material, what drew you to them specifically?  
A: I love mother of pearl specifically, as I see it as a blank sheet of paper.  Nothing hold as much promise and potential to me as a blank sheet of paper.  
Q: Can you speak to the generational significance of pearls (either generally or in your work) as they are something we often see passed down as an heirloom. 
A:  I personally am not hugely into the cultural idea of pearls, and view them really more of a status-y type of jewelry purchase, of which I am not interested in...  That being said, my mom only wears teeny tiny pearl earrings, so theres something to be said for your favorite person only wearing them.
Q: Have you always worked with pearls? If not, what pushed you to incorporate them into your work?
A:  I started working with them as a way to encoporate my drawings of flowers  (specifically forget-me-nots) while in graduate school.  They seems like a nice blank slate to use my sawframe and sawblade to draw the negative space flowers into.  The symbolism of flowers, and the undertones in regards to beauty of the pearl seems to support my intentions.  Of course the rainbow shimmer of the mother of pearl really hooked me in after a while, and how lovely they look on just about every skintone and hair color!
Q: Can you speak to your 'Reinvention' of this classic material? 
A: Cutting the pearl sheets into shapes, and drawing designs on the surface is actually not that revolutionary.  Theres a long history in fine jewelry and scrimshaw, but I think my use of modern day technology with the laser cutter is an exciting avenue im playing around with.  

Kelly Jean Conroy

Boston, MA


Click here to shop her collection!


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