Jena Matzen, JM Design « Back to Studio Artists


Location: Suite 3-141

I am a self-taught designer and metalsmith who has been creating art in various media since childhood.  I adore the creative process and delight in experimentation.  When designing, I like to explore universal motifs, natural phenomena, minimalism, negative space, geometry and color.   I am inspired by nature, science, architecture, relationships, spiritualism, pop culture as well as art + design through the ages and around the globe.  I am also inspired by the creative community of North Carolina.  I am from Colorado but spent many years in Florida.  From there, I moved to Raleigh to work as a human/civil rights lawyer and advocate.  Later I worked in Chapel Hill as an adjunct law professor.  But what I have found here is so much more than just worthy clients, causes and students.  First it was clay, then glass, and finally metal.  The lure of the creative class, and my beloved family, was so great that I left the law to pursue my art and family-tending full-time.  Eventually landing in Durham, I couldn’t be in a better place to do so.

My explorations in clay – hand-building – began in middle school.  I love the tactile and forgiving qualities of clay, and the way working with it makes me feel a kinship to artisans who lived eons ago.  I have had many fine teachers here in North Carolina, first at NC State’s Craft Center, then at the Duke Craft Center, and finally at Claymakers Arts Community here in Durham.  Although I can wheel-throw, I prefer hand-building and like to create decorative vessels and wall pieces.

Jewelry, however, is my primary artistic passion.  I consider jewelry to be one of the most intimate forms of expressive art.  Worn on the body, it is selected with great care and consideration of the wearer’s personality, comfort and desire to express.  Thus, I seek to create simple yet interesting, evocative pieces which will be enjoyed and worn daily.  I am an avid traveler and along with inspiration I often bring home new materials with which to create.  I cut, carve and polish many of the stones which I collect and use in my work.  I work intuitively, rarely sketching out in advance what I will make – I just sit at my bench or table, look at my raw materials and my hands begin to create.  I fabricate each piece one at a time using silver, copper, brass, bronze or gold, adding color and texture with tools, patinas, hand-pigmented resins, enamels, pearls, and stones.

I hope that all of my work expresses the peace and joy I find in creating it.

sterling silver and hand-pigmented resin earrings

sterling silver & hand-pigmented resin

mixed metal and hand-pigmented resin earrings

mixed metal and hand-pigmented resin

Australian boulder opal, found and carved Lake Michigan pebble set in sterling silver

Australian boulder opal & sterling silver