Kari Phillips is a metalsmith and aspiring lapidary artist producing limited edition and one-of-a-kind jewelry. With a degree in Art History and an early career in fine art museums, her work is an explorative homage to ancient emblems and modern art movements. Handcrafted in her Portland, Oregon studio, each piece is fabricated with consideration toward revival and originality; form and material; intent and the wearer.
What was your inspiration for these pieces in particular?
When I partnered with betsy & iya, I wanted there to be a mix of pieces that represented my past work, variations on favorites as well as fresh takes. Leading up to the collection, I had been inspired by Enak's Tears by Jean Arp and I made a pair of earrings with freshwater pearls based on the artwork. Also around that time, I had become interested in Sol Lewitt's wall drawings and created a few quirky pieces with sharp angles in combination with curves. As I started designing for B&I, those two inspirations came together and resulted in the Leda Earrings, Brevity Hoops and Linear Pearl Earrings. The Aves Earrings, on the other hand, are a variation on a pair of earrings I made for a friend a few years ago. Her earrings were a melding of her SW roots and Nordic modernist design elements. Most of my work continues to riff on these designs. And for the Kallisti series, that was originally a nod to my Korean heritage. The forms first included rounded “pagodas” which have since been simplified, but retain the same stippled texture.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
A majority of my inspiration is drawn directly from art history background. I like to flip through my old college art history books and visit art museum collections in person as well as online. I also look to metal masters such as Art Smith, Vivianna Torun, Paul Lobel, Jean Despres among many others.
How did you get started making jewelry?
I've been a beader for more than a decade and after my daughter was born, I took the step toward metal work. While I've been interested in making art all my life, I have always struggled with inspiration. Jewelry was and is the only art form where I find inspiration boundless - that's been very compelling.
What inspires you/motivates you/draws you to working with places like b&i?
betsy & iya is more than a place or a shop. It's also a voice and an energy. It's incredibly special to be part of a fun, supportive, energetic community that doesn't just prize creativity, but fosters it.
What do you hope the wearer feels when wearing your jewelry?
All the amazing adjectives here! Confidence, sophistication, boundlessness. Whatever the destination or occasion, I hope when they walk out the door they feel they're on the cusp of something amazing.