Kiff Slemmons

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Kiff Slemmons (born 1944) is a contemporary American metalsmith. She received her B.A. in Art and French at the University of Iowa, but is primarily known for her career in jewelry and metals.[1] Slemmons currently resides in Chicago, Illinois.

Childhood and early life[edit]

Kiff Slemmons was born in Maxton, North Carolina but grew up in Iowa.[2] In 1962 she enrolled in Scripps College in Claremont, California for comparative literature. She later attended the Sorbonne in Paris, France. She attended an eight-week metals program in Japan through Parsons The New School for Design in 1983.


Since 2000, Slemmons has been recognized for her work with Mexican artists making and designing paper jewelry, resulting in colorful and intricate pieces using traditional bead-making techniques and dyes from indigenous plants.[3]

Her own work includes historical and literary references, incorporating selected found objects, generally non-precious materials, which she fabricates into detailed pieces with silver and other metals. Slemmons expresses that three threads run through her work, "scale, the language of material and the idea of more than one to make one.[4] She rejects the traditional valuation of jewelry based on the materials used, focusing instead on the ideas that go into each piece.[5]

In her exhibition "The Thought of Things," Slemmons made jewelry that used parts of aged photographs, rulers, typewriters, and other found objects in order to elicit a direct personal response. Another series of works that question worth and value was the much talked-about "Re:Pair and Imperfection." In the process of preparing the series, she asked some of her peers to give her pieces that are unfinished because they are unwanted or somehow flawed. She used thirty donated objects of varying materials in the exhibition. These works included wearables and sculptures with ornate details. Her intention was to make the viewer question the nature of imperfection and contemplate the new meaning of unconventional repair.[6]

Selected collections[edit]


  1. ^ "Wayback Machine". 31 December 2010. Archived from the original on 31 December 2010. Retrieved 28 August 2017.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  2. ^ Strauss, Cindi, and Helen W. Drutt. "Ornament As Art: Avant-garde Jewelry from the Helen Williams Drutt Collection, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston". Stuttgart, Germany: Arnoldsche Art Publishers in association with the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 2007. Print. p.503
  3. ^ Yee, Amy (6 December 2012). "A Jewelry Maker Who Goes Far Beyond Metal". Retrieved 28 August 2017 – via
  4. ^ "Kiff Slemmons - Art Jewelry Forum". Retrieved 28 August 2017.
  5. ^ "Two new exibitions [sic] at Palo Alto Art Center find common ground in their new interpretations of the past". Retrieved 28 August 2017.
  6. ^ "Ornament Magazine The Art And Craft of Personal Adornment". Retrieved 28 August 2017.

External links[edit]