Jessica Kagan Cushman
"Never Never Never Never give up"
I flew into NYC in the heat wave of September of 2016. You could not feel the air in your lungs it was so hot and humid. Of course Frontier lost my luggage, so I was dressed in my pajamas from travelling the night before, and our airbnb was very tight, however lovely. We set up the interview area so to be ready when she arrived on the scene. I could tell it was Jessica marching down 101st street as she rounded the corner. She walked right up to me and firmly shook my hand. Her bangles clanked as she walked up the steep stairs to my airbnb on the third floor of East 101st. She wore a classic black dress and had these awesome black wedge shoes on that I had to ask if she would remove when we got into the apartment. She was so amenable and pleasant, big smile on her face and she exuded power and strength. We had the room set up for the interview and she tucked herself neatly into the chair as Hardy got the lights set up. Thankfully we had air conditioning as the heat was nearly unbearable. She was fascinating to watch because of all the jewelry she had on. When she realized we had a close friend in common in Boulder, the doors opened and the interview was beautiful strong and really powerful. Her pain of losing a child was such an influence in her work as originally she made jewelry with her son. She was forthright and clear. Her words were unequivocal. She told the story of her life as a jewelry designer and then brought dozens of pieces for us to look at including the original antique walrus ivory bangles she had found in a vintage store and scratched words onto it. That was the start of the Nantucket Bangle, having something so important to say that scratching on the surface was the only way to say it. She has downsized her studio like so many artists have, and now makes these incredible lockets and modifys them at her bench, as she customizes and assembles them in the studio. They were beautiful and organic looking like French Medieval bijoux combined with contemporary hardware components. We talked and laughed for hours. We talked about so many things, and what jewelry meant for her. Two nights later I was on a packed bus down by Ground Zero and a young woman walked into the bus and was wearing one of those lockets. I call that the Power of Jewelry.