Maker Series: Interview with Kari Woo
1. Tell us a bit about yourself and your business.
Since 2003 I have been a full-time studio jeweller, creative entrepreneur and mixed media artist. My signature understated and modern aesthetic lends itself perfectly to a distinct line of contemporary art jewellery that aims to create substance and meaning through design. This collection is available across Canada through select galleries and design boutiques. My mixed media assemblages, which focus largely on issues of cultural identity and appropriation, have been exhibited both across Canada and internationally and are currently a main focus of my studio practice. Other past works range from installations, performances and sculpture to interactive art objects and a recent foray into public art. I'm a fine art school graduate, a former brick + mortar shop owner, an event organizer, community collaborator, aspiring sculptor and proud mama.
2. Why is consciously made important to you? And how do you integrate it into your business?
Consciously made is important to me because I respect that this world has been here for a lot longer than me, or any of us for that matter, and provides us daily with everything we need and want. If my small efforts to be conscious in my ways of making and living can extend that grace to generations beyond our time then let it be so.
I use recycled metals and gemstones when I can in my jewellery work. In fact, many of my custom jewellery clients seek me out because I will work with them to upcycle or redesign family jewellery items. This makes sense on so many levels - they save money, get to include sentimentally valuable jewels in significant jewellery objects and all of us feel better for not purchasing new materials which would continue to support the need for mining and extraction of these materials. In my mixed media pieces, I largely work with found objects and industrial off-cuts, turning what might become waste product into artworks.
I've always valued the handmade object and I believe that making things yourself or supporting people who make things by hand is an act of resistance against the technological and industrial ways of our post-modern world. For me, it is also a way of figuring out how to live on a human scale and at a human pace.
3. What creative fodder is on your radar lately?
My constant go-to's for creative ideas are patterns in nature and the strength of what a simple line can express. My jewellery designs are often an abstraction of ideas, thoughts and questions I have around identity, relationships, memory and place, and how we navigate these spaces.
Also, my world was rocked recently by seeing the film 'Edge of the Knife' by Gwaii Edenshaw and Helen Haig-Brown. It's a story of being human and features an all Haida cast, spoken in only Haida language, of which there are less than 30 fluent speakers left in the world today. This movie was a pure act of devotion. Might I be so fortunate as to make work as potent and poignant as this someday.
You can see more of Kari’s work and exciting projects on her website: www.kariwoo.com