Heather Benjamin Jewelry
Slate Gray: Heather Benjamin Jewelry, Trunk Show, 2/17 - 2/22!
In addition to featuring the highly theatrical paintings of Silvio Porzionato, Telluride’s Slate Gray Gallery is hosting a trunk show featuring the work of jewelry designer Heather Benjamin, now through February 22.
Go here for more on Slate Gray.
East meets West, heart syncs with mind, business and social consciousness conspire in the metal arts of Heather Goldman. Her line is conceived and crafted in Bali, Heather’s second home and creative universe, where local artisans fashion the work by hand.
“It is out of my deep love, appreciation and reverence for our natural world that I choose yo use only ethically sourced materials like cruelty-free bone from naturally shed deer antler, topographic-patterned, sliced-banded agates borne from volcanic rock, jasper, shell, chalcedony, fossil and agate, recycled silver and gold. In fact, the heart of my creations is engagement with the natural world, connecting us to beauty at its purest, organic level. My wish is the relationship to nature in my jewelry lines, via sustainable minerals and metal, will promote the awareness and compassion so deeply needed to save our planet and all its beings.”
Heather’s bio has a distinctly “Eat, Pray Love” vibe.
“I see why ‘Eat Pray Love’ comes to mind,” explains the artist. “I can relate. My curiosity and passion for life, culture, nature and adventure has pulled me forward. Finding comfort in uncomfortable situations. Feeling the unfamiliar become familiar.”
Heather grew up in Suburban Chicago.
“Frustrated and saddened by the inequities of the world, as a young girl I transformed my anger into activism. My senior year of high school I started an Amnesty International club and version of Greenpeace. In fact, I used whatever tools I had access to in order to level the playing field and open up opportunities for others. That felt meaningful and lit me up.”
After 1 1/2 years at Colorado State University, Heather felt that continuing in college made little sense. She felt she was not learning much more than she knew when she entered.
“I did not find my classes challenging and I was not developing the skills I needed to challenge myself. In the end, I transferred into a program in which I lived on a ship for a semester and circumnavigated the globe. We left from the Bahamas and stopped in Venezuela, Brazil (during Carnival and my 20th birthday) Kenya, Seychelles, India, Malaysia, Hong Kong, China – they were separate at the time – Taiwan and Japan and then back to Seattle. I loved learning about religions, histories and the cultural norms of each new country prior to embarkation. My mind was expanded as my horizons broadened. I fell in love with the beauty and diversity of the people I met and the distinct rhythms of the life I experienced in each new country. Countless vignette from that time will be etched in my memory forever, as well as the exhilarating feeling of discovery that comes from choosing the un-beaten path.”
With a love of travel fully ignited, Heather then traveled to the Middle East for a month and spent the next couple of summers in Mexico and then Guatemala…
“Eventually I transferred to a small Liberal Arts school in Massachusets called Hampshire College where I focused on Cultural Anthropology and Photography.”
A few years after graduation, Heather started her jewelry business.
“Bringing together components from around the world and incorporating them in my lines became a metaphor that expressed my desire to bring together the people of the world. I wanted to bridge gaps, right wrongs and do my part, using the silver spoon with which I was born to make a positive difference. Given my passion for travel, I decided it would be a good idea to locate my production abroad and it made sense to choose a country where I might want to build a life. Bali has a long and well-respected tradition of gold- and silver-smithing. I had not been there, but felt the pull and decided that this new life experience would be worth the risk.”
Once in Bali, things fell into place quickly for Heather. With the support and expertise of her new-found Balinese team, she was able to grow her venture and delve more fully into what lies at her core, her vision executed to perfection by a stellar team of metal workers and master carvers.
“I began to create jewelry and cultivate clients who shared an understanding that beautiful design can connect us to something greater than ourselves.”
How is the Balinese aesthetic reflected in Heather’s jewelry?
“My work honors the age-old Balinese tradition of hand-crafting and the concept of duality: the blend of the masculine and feminine, rough and smooth, earthy and elegant, organic and geometric. The tension inherent in those contrasts is an essential part of each of my designs.”
And how did Heather find Telluride and Slate Gray?
“My jewelry was part of an event for the Telluride Adaptive Sports Program or TASP, where I met Beth McLaughlin. My relationship with Slate Gray Gallery flowed from there.”
Among Heather’s favorite pieces in the trunk show is a new crane necklace.
“The necklace was initially hand-carved using the bone of a water buffalo who lived a full life and died a natural death. We make a mold and then cast the piece using recycled sterling silver.”
There is also a one-of-a-kind Ocean jaspar from Madagascar cuff.
“I also definitely have love affair with every new member of our animal kingdom. Current favorites are the ‘Bear-Madu’ (means Honey in Indonesian), Wolf-Shera and hand-carved mini-bone snake earrings, described as pequeno or small in Spanish.”