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Jess Tolbert

JT tintype headshot Jess Tolbert op JT PY 4c Jess Tolbert op
Gatlinburg, Tennessee
Curriculum Vitae

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 Artist Statement

Utilizing found, or non-precious materials in jewelry is not a new strategy. In fact, it is the original approach. My creative practice builds upon this legacy by recontextualizing what material can do, and importantly, what it can say. I have developed techniques that link an ancient way of approaching adornment to the present through common, mass–produced products as material, evoking familiarity, and challenging notions of value. I explore reminiscent forms of adornment that indicate involvement, identity, and purpose, and I select materials that are intricately linked to distant experiences, histories, or places. Repetitious techniques connect my making to jewelry and metalsmithing’s lineage, but also to the unseen and alienated ways that making occurs in our global and industrialized world. The industrially made combined with the handcrafted is a bridge between disparate modes of making that allows us to consider the role material, process, and people play in the production of things in contemporary culture. Ultimately, highlighting jewelry’s ability as an agent of meaning, empowerment, and belonging.

Material Revelation Exhibit

Greater-Than Series
Vertical Brooch, Hollow Side$750

Vertical Brooch, Hollow Side

fused steel staples, steel, 14K gold pin wire
4” x 1.3125” x 1.25”
103 mm x 33 mm x 30 mm
Vertical Brooch, double shifted rectangle$750

Vertical Brooch, double shifted rectangle

fused steel staples, steel, 14K gold pin wire
4.5” x 2.125 “ x 1”
115 mm x 53 mm x 25 mm
Zig-Zag Rectangle Necklace$1,200

Zig-Zag Rectangle Necklace

fused steel staples
22“ length
559 mm
Rectangle Cluster Link Necklace$1,500

Rectangle Cluster Link Necklace

fused steel staples
30” length
760 mm length
Double Wide Rectangle Linked Brooch$750

Double Wide Rectangle Linked Brooch

fused steel staples, steel, 14K gold pin wire
3.5” x 4.5” x 1.5”
90 mm x 115 mm x 35 mm
Double Short Rectangle Linked Brooch$750

Double Short Rectangle Linked Brooch

fused steel staples, steel, 14K gold pin wire
1.5” x 2.5” x 1.875”
40 mm x 63 mm x 47 mm


Jess Tolbert is an artist, curator, and educator based in El Paso, Texas. They received both their MFA and BFA with a focus in jewelry and metalsmithing. Jess’ work is recognized and exhibited nationally and internationally, including exhibitions at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, France, Beijing Design Week, and the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft; artist residencies at Haystack Mountain School of Craft and Casa Lü, in Mexico City, and awards such as the Preziosa Young 2020 award in Florence, Italy, and as a Finalist for the Loewe Craft Prize 2020. They are a co-founder of the curatorial group Secret Identity Projects, and their work is represented by Gallery Loupe and Gallery 2052.


Thank you to Hilliard Family Foundation Inc. for sponsoring Material Revelation


The Cabarrus Arts Council thanks

Mariam & Robert Hayes Charitable Trust
Atrium Health
Embassy Suites
Corning Incorporated
Fifth Third
Hilton Garden Inn
Independent Tribune
Eli Lilly and Company
Explore Cabarrus
Market Street Studios
Billy Harrison Revocable Trust for Charity
Cabarrus Brewing Company
F&M Bank
Impact Technologies
Publix Super Markets Charities
Shoe Show
Uwharrie Bank
Younce & Co., P.A
City Of Concord
Kannapolis City
Midland Logo
Mt Pleasant Logo
Cabarrus County

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