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Forging Ahead

September 2018
Forging Ahead
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Silversmith Kaminer Haislip’s elegant-but-practical works are on display in a new City Gallery exhibit

Kaminer Haislip (pictured with pup Ansel) is one of three artists featured in the City Gallery’s “Interwoven: The Art of Indigo & Silver,” on view August 24 through October 7. Find more info at citygalleryatwaterfrontpark.com.

Kaminer Haislip was more or less born with a silver spoon in her mouth. “We always had a set of silver for every day,” she recalls of her childhood in Aiken. It’s no wonder she now creates functional works of art in the precious metal—from sleek pitchers to delicate jewelry. After she earned her MFA in silversmithing from Winthrop University in 2005, stylish Southerners began seeking Haislip’s striking pieces; among them was Reese Witherspoon, whose lifestyle brand, Draper James, included her “Magnolia Bowl” in its inaugural 2015 collection. Haislip’s latest project is an exhibit at the City Gallery, “Interwoven: The Art of Indigo & Silver,” guest curated by Brandy S. Culp, which displays her work alongside that of photographer Jack Alterman and textile artist Leigh Magar.

Early inspiration: I grew up in my family’s hardware and appliance business. Being around all of the tools and equipment showed me that working with my hands could be a career. I became interested in metalsmithing in high school when I saw the metal sculptures at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, DC.

Artistic aesthetic: My work is clean, fluid, and modern. I like the traditions of silver, but I try to design within my own time and not just replicate the pieces my grandparents had.

On the process: I make everything entirely by hand through almost the same techniques as colonial silversmiths. Fortunately for me, technology has advanced—I have rolling mills for silversheet, compressed gas for my torch, and polishing machines for buffing.

Haislip’s sterling silver “Link Earrings,“ “Flight of Fancy Baby Cup,“ and “Poppy Bowl”

Hidden meanings: Most of my pieces have an underlying concept. My “Nest Bowl,” made of woven sterling silver wire, stems from the idea that how one builds a home by selecting objects is similar to how a bird collects things like twigs and branches for a nest.

Creating a home: My home décor is very eclectic—everything from midcentury vintage and antique pieces my husband and I have inherited to Michael Moran furniture. Contemporary art rules the walls, but we collect from all craft media and periods.

This month, the City Gallery exhibit “Interwoven: the Art of Indigo & Silver” displays works by artists including silversmith Kaminer Haislip, whose Windy Fall Day I, II, and III (2010) are shown here.

“Interwoven”: Indigo and silver were integral to Charleston’s early economy. Indigo crops generated wealth, and silver was a literal display of that capital. While Leigh and I are both inspired by our mediums’ historical significance, our work is very contemporary in form. Jack’s photos explore indigo and silver through portraits of other local artists who are also influenced by the materials.

Exhibit highlight: Leigh and I collaborated on an installation inspired by the silhouette and the miniature, both traditional Lowcountry art forms. I made three silver oval frames, and Leigh created silhouette-inspired indigo textile portraits to go inside.

Resources: 

Photograph by (portrait) Sarah Westmoreland & (silver - 3) Paul Cheney