When people ask how I became an artist, I often laugh and say, "it's genetic." I was raised in art. My parents met and married while they were students at the Art Institute in Kansas City. I was born shortly after they graduated and began their careers as professional artists. My father made jewelry in the 1960s and '70 and worked for Hallmark while my mother painted, sculpted, and illustrated medical textbooks until 1979, when we moved to Sedona, Arizona. This began a 30-year obsession with creating one of the top 100 Niche American Crafts galleries in the US. They both enjoy busy lives, creating and traveling the world to this day. But it was not until 1982 that the jewelry bug bit me. As an apprentice, I learned traditional native American silversmithing techniques. In 1984 I launched my career as a jeweler, and I've never looked up since. It's always been the challenges of metal smithing that I crave.
Designing pieces that challenge me technically, that speak to a certain aesthetic, is what pulls me to create. Creativity is evolution, a constant yearning for more. And of utmost importance is how it is made. Each piece is created in my studio in the tradition of the American Studio Art Jewelry movement of the 1940s through the '60s, which demands that the work is created entirely in the artist's studio. From drawing through fabrication, the piece never leaves my hands. My studio is my refuge, and I work solo.
I'm an avid organic gardener, I believe in political responsibility,
I love animals, and I'm a bit obsessed with cooking.
The planet and animals are a deep concern to me. Every effort is made to use recycled and ethically mined metals and gems. I volunteer politically and donate a portion of my income throughout the year to the Tennessee Elephant Sanctuary that provides a forever home to retired captive elephants. I believe strongly in giving back and am happy to share my experience freely with other jewelers. I am dedicated to educating others on the importance of art in our lives.
A society without art is a society without a soul.
Bring on the Gems - SNAG @ Tucson. Feb 1-4, 2023. Exhibition live and virtual.
Small Objects - Arizona Designer Art & Craft - April 1- July 31. Tucson, Arizona
Written in Stone - Natural History Institute, Prescott, Arizona. April 28- July 14.
Interweave - Jewelry - November 18, 2017
Advice on Being a Professional Jewelry Artist from Lesley McKeown
ShoutOut HTX - December 2020
Meet the Artist- Lesley Aine McKeown
Tucson Gem Show Guide - 2020