In her work, Kendall Reiss focuses on two separate yet parallel modes of inquiry: the design and fabrication of contemporary jewelry alongside material experiments, which result in sculptural objects and time-based installations. A native of Bristol, Rhode Island, Kendall grew up exploring the rocky shoreline of Narragansett Bay. She attended Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA where she received a BS in Geology, which provided the visual training and hands-on approach she now uses to conduct and record her studio-based investigations. After studying at several prominent institutions including the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, Kendall returned to school to combine her fascination of the natural world with the study of jewelry. In 2011, she received an MFA in Jewelry + Metalsmithing from the Rhode Island School of Design.
Exhibits of her work include the Clark Gallery, Greenville Center for Creative Arts, Bristol Art Museum, and Haskell Public Gardens. Kendall is also an independent curator and has worked both independently and collaboratively on curatorial projects on the East and West Coast at Brooklyn Metal Works, The Hotel Wilshire, Velvet da Vinci, and Alloy Gallery. Kendall recently initiated and moderated a Social Club panel discussion in collaboration with Current Obsession magazine to correspond with the opening of Past is Present: Revival Jewelry at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. She has taught across New England including at the Rhode Island School of Design and Fuller Craft Museum. Kendall is currently a Professor of the Practice at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University in Boston, MA, where she teaches in the Metals Area and the Senior Thesis Program.
"Blooming minerals," "copper flowers," and "fur tongue" all reference the natural patina that forms on copper as it weathers. Encrusted green and mineral-like, verdigris is the result of atmospheric oxidation. Analogous to the intent of many amulets and talismans, verdigris was considered to be prophylactic and served various medical uses in antiquity. The material was also harvested as pigment and used historically by artists.
Positioned at the intersection of three areas of personal inquiry: metalsmithing, geology and botany, my intention in using verdigris as material relies on its capacity for transformation, its ability to visually demonstrate a life cycle, and its relationship to alchemy and science. Evocatively mapped landscapes in miniature, my installations function as reliquaries of time, and shrines to the cycles of life and death. The enclosed verdigris installations serve as microcosms, which represent environmental change on a planetary scale by symbolically highlighting patterns of growth and decay.
By accelerating verdigris growth, the work seeks to demonstrate negative ecological shifts within a fragile landscape. I hope to bring attention to the hastened rate of planetary destruction respective to geologic time, and the irrevocable impact humans are making on a delicate ecosystem.
Origin of Pigment
Wooden shelf, eight glass cloches, Plexiglas tubing, textured copper, verdigris (green oxidation grown by exposing copper sheets to vinegar) Wooden shelf: 43 5/16 x 10 3/8 x 2 inches, glass cloches: 2.5 x 2.5 x 5 3/4 inches, copper plates: 1.5 x 1.5 inches
Origin of Pigment is an installation that highlights the formation of verdigris on copper. Glass cloches, akin to apothecary jars contain copper squares approximately the size of microscope slides. The collection displays a chronological view of eight stages in the process of oxidation. Removed from the source of the oxidation, the copper pieces on view are in a halted state of decay. Ranging from the youngest in the cloche to the far left, to the oldest, far right; the pieces are presented as scientific studies or experiments, and each glass cloche houses a unique microenvironment, which visually highlights the oxide’s cycle of growth and decay
This piece was a site-specific work made for an exhibition at the Alan C. Haskell Public Gardens in New Bedford, MA. I was incredibly inspired by Mr. Haskell’s work as a horticulturalist raising rare and prized botanical specimens for illustrious clients including Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. I was most inspired by the greenhouses on his historic property, which is now administered by the Trustees of Reservations to serve as a public green space. Torii gates are traditionally placed at the entrances to Shinto shrines, and so I made a torii gate to sit at the entryway to the greenhouse. This was the first time-based piece I made for an exhibition, and the heat in the greenhouse in July made the verdigris grow prolifically. I later installed this piece at the Bristol Art Museum as part of a different exhibition. Image K.Reiss_03 shows the piece installed at the Bristol Art Museum, Image K.Reiss_04 is an original installation shot of the piece growing in the greenhouse at Haskell Public Gardens.
Plumbing the Depths: Paraffin Wax Models
These waxes serve as starting points for casting bronze objects. Through working with an historic, 1800’s cast-iron plumb bob mold, I am interested in creating hollow, as well as solid forms. Concepts of weight, balance, heaviness, and resonance are integral themes to this project. The details in the wax models reflects the interior surface of the mold, revealing all of the marks of time and use that are inherently embedded in the original object. Additionally, due to shrinkage of the wax as it cools in the mold, some of the waxes are distorted. I am interested in this distortion because of its ability to speak conceptually about buckling or collapsing under pressure.
Plumbing the Depths: Bronze Bells Samples
These three bronze objects represent the first castings I made of the waxes taken from the historic plumb bob mold. Although these are failed attempts to create a functioning bell form, they are learning moments for me in the process of making and they represent an important form of knowledge making: haptic research. Formulating discoveries through failures is one of the greatest points of understanding for me as a maker. From these objects, I am able to gather information that helps to refine my process for subsequent iterations. The final results of this project will be a set of bronze bells, installed at Coggeshall Farm Museum in June 2019.