Meet Catherine Grisez, a jewelry artist who paints with gems and transforms beer cans into large-scale sculpture. Catherine lives and works in Seattle’s South Park in an auto shop she and her father converted into artist studios surrounded by greenery.
If you could only use 3 words to describe your work, what would they be?
Tell us a bit more about your jewelry.
My work often originates from a personal narrative, reflecting my stories and life experiences through a visual representation. My goal in most everything I do, whether jewelry or sculpture, is to give people a moment of beauty or thought or insight that breaks the routine of the everyday.
In addition to jewelry, you make sculpture and spearheaded an enormous installation to hang over Seattle’s Duwamish River. Can you tell us a little about working on such different scales?
After focusing on small scale sculpture, it’s only been the last 5 years or so that I’ve returned to making jewelry. I love the immediacy and intimacy of working small and focusing on the beauty of an object. But I also crave the complexities of working larger so I’m now trying to balance out by doing both. It’s been interesting the last month or so as I’ve been working on Cultivate, a large public installation (the largest project I’ve worked on to date). One day I was setting tiny 2mm rubies in a commissioned necklace and hours later was sketching plans for a 60’ sculpture installation that will hang off a bridge. It’s odd, but I think I’ve always balanced out in extremes, so for now, this is working!
What do you enjoy most about your work as a jewelry artist?
I love the design process, problem solving to ultimately create something beautiful. In my sculpture I tend to focus everything around a central concept that takes days and days (and often months or years) of writing and thought and sketching before things are resolved. I love the immediacy of jewelry. Since the scale is much smaller and processes less involved, I can often finish a piece the same day I started. The work retains a fresh energy this way and the focus can be on the way the wearer expresses her sense of beauty through the jewelry. Plus I love playing around with color in gemstone form. It sometimes feels like I’m painting through rocks!
Photographs by Charissa Pomrehn for KOBO