Deeply engaged in longstanding craft traditions, particularly the overlooked domestic crafts associated with women such as lacemaking and needlework, Alicia Jane Boswell has created a richly layered body of work over the past fifteen years. While trained as a metalsmith, her interest in fiber and textiles has had an important influence on her jewelry and on her unique approach to enameling.
Born in Kentucky in 1973, Boswell drew regularly as a child. Close to both her mother and grandmother while growing up, she developed a great respect for their traditional needle working skills that included sewing, crocheting, knitting, and quilting. Her mature work, which often includes actual fiber, as well as her metalworking practices, which frequently involve the use of lacemaking techniques to manipulate fine wire, represent an homage to these women and to their profound impact on her life.
Boswell received her BFA in 2000 in Functional Design at Murray State University in Murray, Kentucky. She subsequently decided to pursue graduate studies in metal at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth. Alan Thompson, one of her professors there, encouraged Boswell to incorporate enamel in her jewelry. She ultimately created work that combined her love of lace making with metalsmithing. In 2005, she earned her MFA in Artisanry with a jewelry and metals concentration.
In the three years following her graduation, Boswell taught metals at a variety of institutions across the country. While enjoying teaching, she found that she didn’t have sufficient time to explore her own interest in enameling. That changed in 2008 when she was offered a yearlong residency at the Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts. According to the artist, that residency was a turning point in her career. At Arrowmont, in addition to her teaching responsibilities, she had studio space and ample time to focus on her work. While there she began her seminal “Frayed” series melding her interest in metals, enameling, and fiber. Combining these materials offered a way to honor her grandmother who had recently passed away and to extend her traditional craft practices into a new and completely original body of work.
Boswell’s subsequent work pays tribute to the labor-intensive crafts practiced by women throughout the ages. She derives many of her forms from the humble, utilitarian objects women made and used on a daily basis – such as pockets and pouches. Her brooches, pendants, and necklaces often emulate the tiny rips, tears, and wear that occur on objects that have been lovingly worn and used on a daily basis.
Boswell has taught and led workshops at numerous institutions throughout the country from the Massachusetts College of Art and Dartmouth College to Boise State University, and Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts. She currently teaches at the Armory Center in West Palm Beach, Florida.
Because of the unique nature of her work, particularly the melding of metals, enameling and fiber, Boswell was invited in 2013 to participate in a workshop and exhibit her jewelry at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in connection with the Met’s exhibition “Gems of European Lace: ca. 1600 – 1920.”
Her work has been featured in numerous exhibitions in the United State and Canada including Emaux at This Moment at the Galerie Noel Guyomarc’h in Montreal and Alchemy: The 13th Juried Enameling Exhibition at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in Tennessee.
For more information on Alicia Jane Boswell, visit her website: http://aliciajaneboswell.com/home.html