Kristal Romano, a jewelry and metalsmith artist from New Jersey, is one of the six North Adams Project artists to transplant herself here this winter. Welcome to North Adams, Kristal!
Kristal creates small-scale and wearable sculptures of precious metals that she often combines with more ordinary found objects. She converts these objects, such as credit cards and Monopoly pieces, into ostentatious forms that question culturally constructed ideas of value. Romano notes, “Humor is an important element in my work and I enjoy getting the viewer to laugh, smile, or play with the work even while addressing more serious subject matters. The manipulation of these found objects, images, or text enhances each piece’s wit and humor. Sometimes they appear idiosyncratic and quirky, at other times, they seem typical by-products of American superabundance and marketing.”
Kristal received her MFA from Montclair State University in Montclair, New Jersey. She has taught at the Newark Museum and currently teaches at Montclair as an Adjunct Professor in Metalwork/Jewelry and Sculpture. For the past two years, Kristal was an Artist Fellow in residency at the Peters Valley School of Craft in Layton, NJ, where she was charged with managing the Fine Metals Studio. In that setting Kristal began working with new materials and created her first pewter piece: a teapot! This is a collaborative piece with woodworker and craftsman Jim Whitman, who is making the wooden handle for the side and top of the teapot. Beautiful!
After arriving in North Adams, Kristal worked quickly to set up a studio and produce a huge quantity of work for her booth at the February American Craft Council Show (ACC Show) in Baltimore, Maryland. For this show, Kristal focused on smaller, more functional pieces of jewelry featuring her signature torch-fired enamel style. She has been enameling in her newly acquired kiln and torch firing her pieces out of the kiln. This line of jewelry uses 14k gold-filled accents, torch fired enamel on copper, and steel. The unique combination of steel, gold, and enamel colors produces a strong calligraphic quality on the body. The steel Kristal uses is from repurposed industrial fasteners protected by an enamel finish. The rings are paired with domed copper discs that are torch fire enameled, bringing an organic sensibility and exciting array of color to each piece.
Check out the rest of Kristal’s amazing work on her website!