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
Artist Tanel Veenre shows students from Tainan University of Art in Taiwan who’s who in contemporary jewelry using the Body Alchemy exhibition catalog as a reference. Many of the artists in the show were present at the reception, where this photo was taken. Tanel had met these girls—super sharp and clued in to the European scene—earlier in the year during a one-week workshop about mythology, metaphors, and personal landscapes, which he conducted in Taiwan. Tanel describes the school as a really special place, almost monastery-like, secluded in the mountains. He found the students to be more dedicated and profound than he was used to. The intimate location created a certain kind of sincerity about making art that one does not find all too often. The students had given him a local name, and by the end they even shared tears. He says it was his favorite workshop that he has led.
A similar kind of sincerity toward jewelry could also be sensed in Hangzhou. A rare kind of excitement was circulating in the air on the day of the opening; public attendance was impressive and the flow steady. The opening ceremony, with a speech from the president of the College of Crafts, was buzzing with press. And the exhibition rooms were crowded with enthusiastic students queuing to see the jewelry close up. This much European contemporary jewelry has probably not been seen before in such massive doses here, and witnessing the attentiveness of the audience was really something to behold.