Studio Spotlight: Jennifer Davis Carey
Carey’s official studio is located in the John W. Higgins Armory building (formerly Higgins Armory Museum) a Worcester landmark brimming with fascinating history. Her unofficial studio is her dining room table!
Carey began working in enamel in elementary school when her friend’s father brought the two girls into Manhattan, bought a kiln and bits of enamel, and said “Get to it!” Later down the road, she took enamel classes at the Worcester Craft Center under the instruction of Judith Daner. Carey, who has been “seriously enameling since ‘92,” had previously been located at the Worcester Craft Center for some time but needed a space more “dedicated and spread out,” sparking the move to her current space at the Armory Building. We had the pleasure of visiting her studio recently and learning more about her work.
What are you working on?
Stating that her previous work has been fairly political and that she needed a break from that focus, Carey has been working on a series of spirit dolls based on African tradition, where dolls hold social meaning and are not just for play. The series uses enamel, air dry and paper clay, beads, and found materials to construct each doll. Historical accuracy is crucial to Carey’s work and ideation process. While we were at the studio Carey was working on a dark purple nebulous spirit doll based on the Sirius star system of the Dogon people of West Africa’s tradition.
How do you work and when?
Carey spends her Saturdays in the studio and sometimes a few additional hours during the week. She shares the space with three other enamellists but when she has the studio to herself, she likes to listen to music from high school or college (soft rock or funk and R&B) to set the tone for her work. She does all firing of pieces in the studio but will do framing and embellishments at home. Carey begins each project by immersing herself in her subject of inspiration. She does research using the studio's small library and pulls on lessons from artist Dale Chihuly and Mark Rothko for color usage.
What is one thing you can’t work without?
The studio kiln (made possible by a Worcester Arts Council grant), metal substrate, and glass/ground enamel colors.
Carey’s enamel collection is impressive and took time to acquire. It includes stashes from other enamellists, including her friend’s mother and the late Lilyan Bachrach, and has some LOE (Last on Earth) enamels and rare watercolor enamels that she scoured eBay for.
What do you love about your workspace?
Carey was drawn to the space for a couple reasons. The building’s history is a big part of her love for the space, she enjoys being a part of the continuation of the space’s history. There’s a ballroom upstairs (The Great Hall) and an auditorium next door from the studio. The actual studio space itself already had metalworking equipment and enough space for a kiln and small library. The natural light doesn’t hurt either!
What WE loved about the space!
Carey’s “Disaster Box”! A box filled to the brim with project mishaps, including a beautiful ornate light switch that upon completion was discovered to be created upside down.
Follow Jennifer Davis Carey on Instagram @jennifercareyartworks