Brilliance: Lola Brooks

Brilliance: Lola Brooks

Lola Brooks, atehearts (a self portrait)

Lola Brooks’ atehearts (a self portrait) features eight brooches (2009 – 13), made of stainless steel, gold, and other materials. Photo: Evan Morgan

Hearts and bows – is this Pollyanna’s jewelry? In Lola Brooks’ hands, those motifs turn enigmatic. As Sharon Church puts it, “Lola makes jewelry that is poignant, a little dangerous and often dark. It is undeniably good.” Adds Susan Cummins: “She makes nostalgia look hip.”

How she got started: “As a child I spent much of my time immersed in a world of my own design, spending hours tucked behind my dollhouse, making miniature jewelry out of pieces of my mother’s costume jewelry. I took my first jewelry class in fourth grade. When I was 19, I flowed solder for the first time, combining two pieces of metal into one, and it was the most powerful thing I had ever experienced. I never looked back.”

Why she makes jewelry: “I believe in the power of jewelry’s intimate scale and symbiotic reliance on the body, and the fact that its beauty and materiality have always been poisoned by a shameless celebration of wealth, excess, and debaucheries. I love that it becomes inextricably tied into how we cultivate identity.”

Her biggest reward: “I would be hard-pressed to choose one: living a life where I get to make things with my hands, teaching others to do the same, holding a finished piece after having no idea if I could actually pull it off, and the honor I feel every time someone decides a piece is important enough they want to own it.”

Read the rest of the profiles of jewelry artists in this issue.