Beyond Flesh: Myths in Metals, Stones and Bones, a series of nine works developed during a decade of culling precious and semi-precious stones, minerals, and antique jewelry, which have undergone a process of deconstruction and reconsideration. They have been reworked and interwoven combined with ethnic, textured components into startling objects that question the feasibility of a post-colonial future.
An American artist of mixed ancestry, Sha utilizes materials associated with her Black, Native American, and Western European descent, which she collected nomadically across four continents. Integrating ivory, bone, horsehair, quills, and lava with her curated foundational gold and silver pieces from Morocco and Namibia, the objects take on new purpose and claim an agency of their own. Confronting shifting landscapes of colonialism and globalism, Sha exposes seemingly ordinary objects as flickering shadows of a capitalist oppression; She reclaims and reconstructs them as ritual acts of transmutation and healing.
New York City-based artist, Sha (née Michele) Kelly became fascinated with the art of jewelry-making as a child spending time with her aunt, a jewelry maker and abstract painter in New York City’s vibrant downtown arts scene of the 1980s. She inherited the sense that jewelry is more than bodily adornment; it is talisman and transformative.
At Dartmouth College, Sha studied Latin literature and Roman archaeology. She travelled throughout Italy studying ancient ruins, which both sparked her perception of artifacts and antiques as windows to the past and cultivated her appreciation for rarity and eye for fine detail.
In the 1990s, under the name Michele Kelly, she forged an expansive career as an actress in Hollywood and New York City. She worked in television, film, commercials, and stage opposite Oscar winner Jamie Foxx, Ryan Reynolds, Lucy Liu, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt and under the direction of Spike Lee.
In 2004, drawn by a distinctive and original underground arts movement, Sha moved to San Francisco, California where she became deeply influenced by the art, fashion, and music community that birthed the rise of fashion designers Skingraft, Majesty Black (Madonna, Kat Von D), and House of Malakai (Beyoncé). Sha designed sets for stylist Gita Salem (Prince) and acted as poet and writer amongst that group. It is there in San Francisco that Sha returned to making jewelry and began to incorporate archetypal imagery and feral references into her pieces.
Through her art, Sha interweaves classical inspirations with the more primal instincts.
Sha holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Classical Studies, with emphasis on Latin. She lives in New York City yet travels extensively in search of rare, transcendent materials for her jewelry.