Today’s Sunday jewelry report card is about heritage, culture, and jewelry. Kristen’s designs are her own and reflect a sense of style that matches that strong foundation. Her work has modern lines, but it is also about the power of women in society, as well as Chickasaw heritage. I first saw her work in a post on the popular instagram page Diamonds in the Library. Not a bad one to follow either! Anyway, she is also carried by Vicki Turberville, whose is a favorite of ours! She has been featured in British Vogue and other publications. What drew me to Kristen’s work immediately, was her use of symbolism, which is steeped in beautiful jewelry design.
Her work also resonates with me, because I also had more than one ancestor on the Trail of Tears, so we share a bit of that southeastern indigenous link. Kristen is an advocate for authentic Native American design and indigenous art. This subject is important, because I can attest to having seen many people use indigenous motifs and lead people to believe they were Native American artists, referring to things about their time near reservations, their experiences-yet never clarifying that they aren’t really Native American artists. It is important to realize how much intellectual and cultural heritage is appropriated and used for monetary gain and to try to support artists like Kristen Dorsey, who has strong ties and is actually Chickasaw. Native American identity, indigenous women, law, and stereotypes was a main focus of my doctorate, so I could just go on and on. In her own words:
“I honed my craft at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston while also earning a degree in American studies with a concentration in Native American studies from Tufts University.
The materials and techniques I use reflect my passion for the history of adornment within the southeastern Native American culture. My designs reflect a unique historical and cultural perspective…one which connects me with my cultural identity.
Chickasaw jewelry is characterized by shell carving, copper relief sculpture, and freshwater pearls. Using Mississippian imagery from shell and copper gorgets as my inspiration, I create pieces that reference traditional materials. Working with these materials and imagery connects me to my ancestors”. KristenDorseyDesigns.com
The pieces in her line tell a story as she says in ‘metal and stone’. She uses materials also once important to her people like pearls. See her detailed historical link here. Yet, while culture informs some of her choices, it shouldn’t be thought that her work is all about the past or that Native Americans are static. Her jewelry has a very personal style…she plays with modernity and geometric shapes. Her Hatchet Woman collection has these two aspects interconnected. In one way, she discusses the fact that Chickasaw women could be warriors, but in another embraces femininity and contemporary jewelry design. The Panther pieces highlight the strength of Chickasaw women leaders, but they are beautiful pieces without any knowledge at all of that narrative. Sky serpent, is also a favorite of mine for it’s ancient roots and modern lines. The scale of her jewelry is great, large and fierce. You can really see this on the body, as seen in the images we’ve included here. Her work is available on her website kristendorseydesigns.com and in various shops as seen via this link. USE THE CODE: SARARA on her website for 15% off.
What We Covet:
Why We Follow Her: