It takes us on a journey through the Tainos Indians' gardens in the Dominican Republic with naturally inspired necklaces made with leathers and the indigenous Larimar stone.
It takes us to the tribal villages of the Native Americans with necklaces in the form of breastplates, elegantly aligned pieces joined intricately for the trendsetting woman.
It crosses waters and continents to the Egyptian pyramids through a peculiar pair of scarab-shaped earrings made from brass, artistically moulded using a preliminary sculpture.
It travels to the Caribbean through a golden ring and chain set, an abstract depiction of people in a Carnival fete- who knows? It is the creative mind of Dominican Republic artist extraordinaire, Kristy Collado and her masterful collection called Chejo.
Chejo, named after her grandfather who was her main inspiration behind her pieces, strikes a chord in the stylish minds of the audacious statement makers who dare to be differently sophisticated. Collado's artistic creations are more than unique geometric jewelry, they echo through each piece a visual statement of extreme individuality combining an undoubtedly earthy edge and a timeless metropolitan flair. And of course through her Dominican Republic upbringing the New York born artist also adds that undeniable Caribbean swag to her work.
"I grew up watching my grandfather in the garden in Dominican Republic and his love for nature aroused the same passion for nature in me. Most of pieces are made from recyclable material that I collect from old coats and furniture and all of them have a natural feel to them. That is why I named my collection after my grandfather. Chejo was his nickname," informed the 31-year-old who recently displayed Chejo at the Gallery, a premiere art/home accessories/jewelry store located at Long Circular Mall, St James, and owned by Sheena Thorpe.
Collado, a graduate of St Lawrence University in the field of Fine Arts really began her career as a paint artist and her creative juices led her to different realms of the art world. Jewelry, clothing, shoes and even knitted swimsuits, the versatile craftswoman loves to experiment with new ideas. "I like to make a statement through my work but at the same time keep it simple. I use a lot of leather, brass, gold and even denim in my creations. I love the whole breastplate concept and I use it for my necklaces because of its significance to the Native Americans. They used breastplates to protect their spirit. I also love geometric shapes and bones," Collado revealed. The necklace she wore for her display was a leatherette breast plate with sections of brown and blue. It complemented her outfit perfectly and fit right into her personality. The earrings which she wore were also some of her favourite pieces. They were small, unique and bone shaped.
Lively and exotic accessories, it's no surprise therefore that T&T has fallen in love with Collado's work. Soca artiste Fay Ann Lyons-Alvarez wore her creation for the International Soca Monarch Finals in 2010, and she has done styling for soca maestros, 3Canal, fashion designer, Meiling and even fashion icon Anya Ayoung Chee. Ayoung Chee wore her jewelry for some of the episodes of Project Runway. "I came to Trinidad in 2003 through an exchange programme with my University. From then and now I am in love with Trinidad and Tobago. I think it is the metropolitan city of the Caribbean. I believe that my pieces will be greatly received here because it has that Caribbean touch to it," Collado stated.
Having been trained in fine arts her jump to jewelry was not planned but it was the best decision she has ever taken, "I love art and I love to paint. I have a couple of portraits but as much as I love still art I love to see art on people. I like to see them wearing and enjoying my work," she declared.
In the wake of Chejo many other projects will evolve. Will a Carnival band, accentuated with the synergies of the best of the Tainos Inidans', Egyptian and Native Americans be on the cards for the Tainos/Spanish/African woman? "Who knows? I love Carnival and with this event my creative mind will be limitless. It's a great direction for my career and I will try it very soon," Collado promised.