Catholic Creative: A Jewelry Designer
An interview with Jessica Connolly of Telos Art Shop
“He has given me (and I would argue all of us!) a creative spirit and a spirit of service; being able to use these gifts allows me to feel closer to him while serving others.”
Katie Warner interviews Catholic artists and artisans about their crafts, asking how their art impacts the Church and their faith impacts their work.
Tell me a little about who you are and about your craft.
Throughout life I have been captivated by the visual world. As a child I would often try to map out the layout of a building in my mind or on paper, trying to make sense of the spaces surrounding me and how they were connected. Converting to Catholicism was a similar process of piecing together the Truths I had heard growing up. Catholicism restored my need for truth, beauty, and goodness in design. Therefore, I would attribute both architecture school and my conversion to Catholicism as the perfect springboards into graphic design, art and craftsmanship.
When did you start making jewelry? What inspired you to do this as a career, part-time work, ministry, or hobby?
Two years ago I decided to tinker around some of my grandmother's old jewelry to see if I could remake them into new pieces. My Instagram account quickly turned into the Telos Art Shop account. In order to preserve this work as something I enjoy, I still view it as an artistic pursuit, but it has also become the largest component of my small business.
How does your faith influence your art?
The beauty of our faith influences just about every piece I make for the shop. My mission is to use this work as a way to support others in their journey of faith.
How does your art impact your faith?
Art and nature have always played a huge role in my faith. How can you look at a sunset and not acknowledge that God is the ultimate Creator? He has given me (and I would argue all of us!) a creative spirit and a spirit of service; being able to use these gifts allows me to feel closer to Him while serving others. But honestly, more than my own work, I am inspired by the faith-filled work of fellow artists.
Can you pick a favorite work you’ve done recently? Tell me a little about it.
My hand painted floral/succulent pendants are mini artworks! It’s a 10-day process: after allowing the first layer of resin to set for 3-5 days, I then paint a mini bouquet or cactus. The last layer of resin then sets for another five days. The process teaches me patience and allows me to create truly custom pieces for my customers.
Why do you think Catholic art has such an important role to play in the Church?
Again, just like nature, I see all art as an opportunity to point back to the Creator. As a convert I was so moved by the use of all the senses during Mass: kneeling for prayer, inspiring music, being surround by thoughtful art, the burning of incense, and of course receiving the Eucharist. The arts are also an important way to preserve the Christian story throughout the ages.
To whom do you turn for inspiration?
As with studying architecture, learning prototypes has been important as I learn more about jewelry design. With my religious jewelry I try to revive vintage or reproduction medals in new, modern settings. I am inspired by both contemporary art along with current and timeless jewelry trends. As a convert, the idea of saintly intercessors is still new, but St. Maximillian Kolbe often shows up when I'm researching for the liturgical calendar.
Name one piece of advice/wisdom that has had a great influence on your work.
“Don't bother with the jewelry. It won't be worth it.” Sometimes negative feedback can be the best motivation!
If people want to explore your work in more detail, where can they look?
We send out a monthly Telos Art Shop newsletter with a free liturgical calendar download and first dibs on shop listings, a big perk since many of the jewelry designs are limited edition or one-of-a-kind!