1)Tell us about yourself...
I’m a 34 year old artist living in Pittsburgh, transplanted from the South via the Midwest. I have an MFA in Metal Design from East Carolina University.
2)When you're not creating, what do you do?
I juggle a lot of things, including several jobs—I’ve been working at the Society for Contemporary Craft in the Strip District for 2 years, and in the Fall I’m beginning a new position as the Gallery Director at Slippery Rock University, as well as teaching jewelry and metalsmithing at CCAC. I also like to run in the evenings, as well as knit and crochet, and I’m learning to home brew beer.
3)When and what made you decide to become an artist?
I had my first portfolio at age 12. I’m still good friends with my art teacher from middle school, who first encouraged my work in art. I was lucky to go to a high school for visual and performing art, where I discovered metalsmithing at age 15. From there I got a BFA in Sculpture, taught for a few years at a community college in Charlotte, NC, and then went to get my MFA in 2003. Since then I’ve been in hundreds of exhibitions across the US, Japan, Italy, Spain, and Germany, and my work is published in 8 books.
4)Where do you get your inspiration from and how does it affect your work?
For the past few years I’ve been inspired by Pittsburgh, especially the rusty metal and urban decay. My line of Jewelry N’at is inspired by Pittsburghese, and the intense pride that Pittsburghers have for their city. I wanted to be able to offer handmade jewelry that expresses that pride at prices most Pittsburghers can afford.
5)What drew you into joining Steel Town Etsy?
Since my work is so inspired by Pittsburgh, I wanted to be associated with a group of makers who represent Pittsburgh.
6)What is most appealing to you about Handmade?
I’m a huge advocate of handmade! I love the individuality of items made by hand, the way things function, knowing the people who make things, supporting the local economy, using sustainable and/or recycled materials. I could go on and on!
7)What are your top 5 favorite (books, websites, blogs, movies) and why should we (read, look at, watch) them?
Hmmmm, Books: No One Belongs Here More Than You by Miranda July is brilliant. I also highly recommend The Omnivore’s Dilemma, and all of Michael Pollan’s other books. I like everything Chuck Klosterman writes, like Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs, of course Perks of Being a Wallflower is a Pittsburgh favorite, and I like books by Bukowski, Tom Robbins, Paul Theroux, Elizabeth Crane, and plenty more. I haven’t had a TV in years, so I read a lot. Websites/blogs: I love Art Jewelry Forum, Klimt02, and Crafthaus for jewelry-related stuff. I read Salon, Huffington Post, and Mother Jones for news. I download music (legally) from emusic, and I’m addicted to twitter and facebook. I don’t really watch many movies because 2 hours is a long time for me to have free time, but I listen to npr as much as possible, and I LOVE Radiolab, This American Life, and All Things Considered.
8)Who are some of your favorite Handmade artists?
I love my ceramics by Martina Lantin, Steven Cheek, Mel Griffin, and ex-bf Bo Bedilion, as well as all my anonymous mugs and plates. I have favorite jewelry by Robert Lee Morris, Jillian Moore, Amy Weiks, Opulent Project, and Miles Rountree, and I want some pieces by Caitie Sellers, Dan DiCaprio, and Bob Ebendorf. I also love my handmade bag by Jill Harrell, and my scarf by Ping Wu.
9)What question(s) do you have for other artists like yourself?
How do you find time to balance everything? How do you market yourself?
10)What are you top 3 favorite stops/places in Pittsburgh and why do you love them so much?
It’s hard to pick just 3! I love PNC Park—the view is amazing and its within walking distance from my studio. (Let’s go Bucs!) The Aviary is a great place to visit and the penguins are super cute. The Mattress Factory always has thought-provoking exhibits, and their garden is pretty magical. I guess all my favorite places are on the Northside!
11)What do you want to see from Steel Town Etsy in the future?
Things like this interview are great. I think its important for people to understand that there is a real person behind the handmade object, and that anyone can be a maker, as long as they realize how much hard work it takes.
12) What do you see your self doing in the future?
I’d like to fix up a house on the Northside and get a dog . I’ll also continue my art career in Pittsburgh, as well as continue to get involved with local arts organizations and projects.