Jeweler Profile

Kristen Dorsey

Kristen Dorsey was born and raised in southern California.  From an early age, she was encouraged by her family of artists, scientists, and engineers to create, construct, and follow a creative path.  Dorsey is a second generation Californian of Chickasaw, Choctaw, and European lineage.  Though she was born and raised outside of her tribal community, she gained a sense of identity from her Chickasaw grandfather Ralph Gordon Colbert, an accomplished aerospace engineer, artist, and carpenter.  Dorsey’s interest in history and design led her to attend a dual degree program with Tufts University and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston (SMFA) where she pursued Native American studies and small to large metals.  In 2009 Dorsey earned her BFA from the SMFA and her BA in American Studies from Tufts University. 

Dorsey’s academic and artistic interests converge in her jewelry.  Her materials and techniques reflect her research and passion for the history of Native American southeastern adornment.  As a result, her jewelry pieces represent a unique historical and cultural perspective. Using Mississippian period imagery from shell and copper artifacts as inspiration, Dorsey creates jewelry utilizing traditional southeastern materials.  She is most noted for her work in the southeastern technique of creating relief work from flat sheet metal, commonly known as chasing and repoussé.  According to Dorsey, “working with these processes, materials, and imagery connects me to my ancestors.  I firmly believe that culture is never lost, but rather forgotten, and creating art is a way to remember.  I strive to create timeless jewelry rooted within tradition while remaining relevant to contemporary fashion."  Dorsey’s work is often described as wearable sculpture with many layers of symbolism and has been exhibited both on the fashion runway, a well as in gallery spaces.  

Dorsey has won numerous awards at the South Eastern Art Show and Market, and has participated in juried art shows and markets at institutions around the country including the South Western Association for the Arts in Santa Fe, and The Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, DC.  Her work was also selected for the upcoming exhibit “Native Fashion Now” to begin at the Peabody Essex Museum in 2015 and then travel to several other national venues.


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Videography: Anthony Thosh Collins
Hair/Makeup: Paloma Alcantar
Model: Lacey Bollinger
Styling: Bethany Yellowtai