Growing up in NH and VT, Nisa spent much of her early years in the beautiful woods and mountains, but her draw to the seaside has been present all along. Like a compass finding true north, she left her beloved mountains and moved to the coast at 18. Decades later, she is still there, entranced by the inexhaustible abundance of inspiration from her natural surroundings.
Nisa earned her BFA from the Maine College of Art in 2000, and then settled in Downeast Maine soon thereafter to start her family. In 2006 she founded NISA Jewelry, and since then her work has been shown in juried fine craft shows, galleries, private trunk shows, public shows, and published in multiple books and publications. She is also a seasoned teacher, and loves assisting others in their creative pursuits. She has taught countless private and public workshops, for both older children and adults, and is a certified Precious Metal Clay instructor, as well as a Master for the Craft Apprentice Program (Maine).
These days, Nisa can often be found in her sunny studio in downtown Ellsworth, Maine (or, if it’s summer, she can often be found working at the J.McVeigh Jewelry gallery in Stonington, Maine), immersed in a plethora of organic found objects, gemstones, and precious metals. Her studio is not public, but visits by appointment are most welcome. Her latest work can be found in select galleries, as well as on her website and social media accounts (Instagram and Facebook).
Everywhere I go, my eye seeks out the “quiet” beauty…moments in my surroundings that are easily overlooked for their plainness or commonness, but that I discover are stunning when I focus in on them. I allow myself to be intimately drawn into these moments, and delight in exploring how I can illuminate and elevate this beauty, so that others recognize it as familiar, but in a fresh way that catches their attention, and causes them to pause and consider. When my work resonates with viewers, I am told that they experience a sense of belonging and harmony, of renewed connection to the natural world. With these experiences come feelings of calm, delight, gratitude, and even joy. These experiences are something that I believe we are all in need of, whether you live in the city or on a farm in the country. We are organic beings, and yet, we tend to see ourselves as separate from the natural world, creating a sense of disconnect in our sense of self, and “otherness” in our world. There is much truth to be found when we recognize ourselves as an integral part of the natural world, and my work speaks to this connection.
Eye-catching, quiet sparkle….delicate, subtle textures….rich, glowing hues…curving, organic forms….shimmering iridescence….kinetic, fluid motion….translucency…brilliant sunlight…. these are a just a few of my sources of inspiration, present in my local landscape. These moments coalesce to make up my unique creative language/creative palette. With these in mind, I am in constant consideration of how to adorn and compliment the human form, creating pieces that are timeless, and designed for everyday wear.
My creative process is about reimagining and exploring tangible relationships between organic textures, patterns, and forms that I find in my environment, with the human figure as my canvas. At first glance, a piece of my jewelry might look like a silver impression of something that occurred naturally, but is, in fact, made up of, say, the shape of a bunchberry leaf, embellished with the nubby texture of a sea urchin, accented with 24k gold along the edge, and patinated to an iridescent burgundy tone. Gemstones and/or organic found objects are usually incorporated into these pieces, introducing color, depth, and light-play.
Before I design a piece, I collect marine and botanical selections from my local surroundings, which I use for mold-making, experimentation, and reference. Each mold begins with the impression of the specimen, and is then altered and modified so that it is no longer a literal impression, but a mold of my original creation. I also make small drawings (often times using my natural selections as subjects), and then texture the drawings with polymer clay. In addition to my traditional metalsmithing skills, I frequently use metal clays, and enjoy the challenge of seamlessly marrying these metal mediums and skill sets. Silver and/or bronze clay is used to create the models from the molds, and I will likely continue to mix and match among the many components, until I reach a finished piece.
My attention is not on rules of perceived value, or trends, but to balancing form and function and beauty. When designing, I strive to be inspired and original, but not literal. Ideally, each piece will be eye-catching in a quiet manner, comfortable, functional with ease and security, and have some kind of kinetic quality that engages the eye as the wearer moves about. Precious and non-precious, traditional and contemporary, common and rare, complex and simple: be it the material, design, or crafting technique, they all have a seat at my aesthetic table.
Through my works of handcrafted jewelry, I strive to delight and beautify people, myself included, while establishing small but meaningful connections to the natural world through beauty and love. I understand from the start that each piece that I create is for someone out there, even if I do not know them yet, and so it is my honor to do this work, and my hope that you find your piece(s) among my offerings.
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