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DAbout the Artist
Welcome to the about Mandalena page. I was raised in Ketchikan, Alaska which is home to one of the most diverse populations of artists in the country. Ketchikan has been designated as one of the "top 100 Small Arts Communities in the United States". It is also know for its large population of native Alaskans. The Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian are the three indigenous Pacific Northwest Indian tribes to consider this territory. Because of this, Ketchikan is home to the worlds largest collection of totem poles, which brings us to the subject of my first job!
My mother was an Alaskan artist, who specialized in painting scenic landscape, so I was exposed to the arts at an early age. At 14, I acquired my work permit and soon after, obtained a job painting miniature totem poles for one of the local galleries. It was tedious and detailed work but very rewarding.
In school, I really loved art class and my teachers took note. With their help and encouragement, I received a scholarship to attend the Sitka Fine Arts Camp. At the age of 15, I moved to Portland, Oregon to live with my father. At 19, I went to work as a dental assistant for a private practice. Seven years later, I realized that I wanted to do something different. I just didn't know what.
About a year later, after following my heart and doing some soul searching, my passion for art reappeared, only this time in the form of jewelry. Feeling unsure about what you want to do in life is a bit mysterious. The unknown and constant changes can be very challenging.
So where did I go from here? I made one necklace. One necklace became many necklaces. And many necklaces became my jewelry store at Bridgeport Village. One the most exciting days of my life was signing the lease to my first store (see photo).
The store opened in July 2006. Since that time, I have made many wonderful clients, to whom I want to thank. I am often asked whether I have had any formal training. And the answer is no. I have never taken a class or read a book. I just pictured what I wanted to make and made it.
I am also asked how I come up with my designs. And the answer is I don't know. I have read that visual art is defined as the arrangement of colors, forms, or other elements in a manner that affects the sense of beauty. I design my jewelry like working a puzzle. And a puzzle isn't finished until all the pieces fit together perfectly.
Often, I visualize designs in a dream not unlike a song writer or poet who wakes in the middle of the night to write down their thoughts. I see patterns and colors in everything so designing is an extension of my perception, which affects my sense of beauty.
Finally, I have included a photo of the necklace that I entered in the 2007 Swarovski Create Your Style design contest, which is a world event. I finished top 20 in the professional category.