Kelly Jean Conroy
Kelly Jean Conroy was born in 1983, in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. Growing up in New England and being raised by an artist mother who emphasized making and painting, eventually led her to attaining her BFA from Syracuse University in art education and painting. She completed her MFA in Jewelry Metals from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth in 2013. She is currently teaching metalsmithing at Lincoln Sudbury Regional High School, and metalsmithing courses at Massachusetts College of Art and Metalwerx. Her work focuses on life cycles in nature within a jewelry format. Her specialties are enameling, working with natural materials: carving bone, piercing mother of pearl, laser cutting, and casting.
I first met Kelly and saw her work at the 2013 Annual SNAG Conference “Meta Mosaic” in Toronto, Canada. I fell in love with her jewelry immediately. It is so alluring and haunting the way she uses materials such as bone, birds, and other small animals. To find beauty in death and loss is a common tread for many artists. Kelly takes this to another level by creating jewelry truly made from nature. Even if it is too fragile to be worn, the idea of adornment is there, forcing the viewer to think about loss and life, but also perhaps to consider what can be used to make "jewelry" precious, beautiful, and unique. Kelly is someone I admire, she balances creating art jewelry and wearable work on top of being an educator, teaching night classes at MASSART and high school jewelry classes. I studied both Art Ed and Jewelry & Metalsmithing, so I love meeting and seeing others who balance the two.
"I see my jewelry as layered paintings- collages with dimensional elements that allude to a story. The stories are about loss, something that touches us all eventually, but also about the beauty of life. If I can make death and the subsequent feeling of loss something beautiful, I can soothe my fear of future loss. We all carry these experiences of life and loss within the inner layers of our being, and I see my necklaces as a way to wear these moments on one’s outer layer."
What interested you in being apart of the Guidelines project?
"When Given the same Guidelines interested me as a form of connection to others in my field. Connection lives in many ways... as jewelers, our work is meant to be worn and connect to the viewer/wearer, and in some way we're looking to connect to the folks who think and feel about the same things as we do. The concept of working 'alongside' other jewelers near and far pulled me in, and I'm excited to be apart of such a creative concept!"