Kellie Riggs was born in 1986 and grew up on Whidbey Island, WA. She is a recent Fulbright Grantee based in Italy where she maintains a studio practice and continues her research on contemporary jewelry’s relation to the visual arts. She received a BFA in Jewelry + Metalsmithing from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2011 and is the founder of www.greater-than-or-equal-to.com.
Photos by Kellie Riggs, taken during the Hangzhou Contemporary International Jewelry and Metal Arts Triennial 2015—China Academy of Art
Dr. Carin Reinders, director of the CODA Museum in Apeldoorn, Netherlands, was one of many movers and shakers to give presentations during the Body Alchemy seminar in conjunction with the exhibition at the China Academy of Art in Hangzhou. At first, as she gave a brief background of the museum (6,000 pieces in storage, funding comes from the Dutch Ministry of Culture, etc.) and recounted a bit of contemporary jewelry history, it seemed she was a less relevant pick, in the context of a Chinese art institution, than other speakers. But then she began to focus on what, to her, makes jewelry count: that it should be a high concentration of focus and energy, a combination of cheerfulness and substance, showing emotion, and so on, which is where a more universal appeal started to appear. She asked, “What are we freeing our bodies from with this jewelry? Is it emancipation or liberation? Can it be a theme? Where are we going? What if this future is freeing ourselves from the past?”
Out of many questions raised by other various European speakers, this was perhaps one of the most pertinent for the Chinese audience. It was also the right frame through which to look at work so very different from what the Western world is used to. Pictured is Ms. Reinders exchanging business cards with attendees to the seminar. She seemed keen on getting to know new work and adding Chinese contemporary jewelry to her museum’s collection. In the end this invitation proved to be a quite significant handshake.