Tamra M. Gentry

Contemporary studio jeweler, INTJ-maker, hyper-creative human, lover of color.

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Other Work

About Tamra

There’s something about the psychedelic swirls and metallic colors in Fordite that invoke a certain giddiness when I see them. But then that’s to be expected.

I first experienced color’s purely physical effect on me in high school. It happened during what became the first of a series of solo “creative inspiration quests” to the St. Louis Art Museum. It was an annual pre-back-to-school ritual for me to hit the art museum (and the zoo) alone for an INTJ meditation and recharge.

At SLAM, I saw a Kandinsky painting for the first time. Upon standing face to face with it, my heart started racing, my stomach dropped to my feet, I couldn’t breathe, and I felt an overwhelming urge to cry (but I didn’t because, well, INTJ). The color and motion in the painting were so intense that they caused a massive emotional and sensory overload–aka INTJ Code Freaking Red.

After experiencing several color-induced “Kandinsky Creative-Crumbles” repeatedly, over time, I noticed a pattern. Following these all-encompassing recharge sessions I always fell into deep—often overwhelming— periods of hyper-creativity. It became clear that I had to find a way to manage the madness and channel my “crumbles” into my own work.

This need to express myself through color developed into an all-out, ongoing battle between letting loose and indulging vs.

keeping myself constrained and controlled because it’s partof my OCD/control freak nature. I couldn’t extract either from my personality.

This meant that I had to find a way to balance my right-brain creative overflow, as represented by color, with the automatic pushback that was my left-brain penchant for (subtle, complementary) confinement and structure. You can see that here in my Fordite work and many years later in my current jewelry designs.

I have what I’ve felt sometimes is a painfully-simple minimalist design aesthetic. I’d like to embellish more, but my design-brain screams NO–almost as if it knows when enough is enough for any given piece. I’ve stopped fighting it at this point. In fact, I believe it’s a good thing to let colors and materials serve as the center of focus. My customers and clients love this about my work.

Fast-forward to well over a quarter of a century since my first “creative crumble.” As both an artist and artisan, my studio practice provides an environment in which I can continue working to transform my wicked-intense color-driven creative energy into meaningful and satisfying work for me that’s fun to collect and wear for others.

Past Events

Illinois Artisans Program for Fine Craft: Holiday Art Spree

The James R. Thompson Center
100 W. Randolph St., Atrium
Chicago, IL

DECEMBER 2013

Out of the Box Holiday Artisans Market

109 Oak Park Avenue
Oak Park, IL

DECEMBER 2013

Illinois Artisans Program for Fine Craft: Fall Art Spree

Chicago Water Tower Building – Visitor’s Center
806 N. Michigan Avenue
Chicago, IL

DECEMBER 2011

Illinois Artisans Program for Fine Craft: Holiday Art Spree

Chicago Water Tower Building – Visitor’s Center
806 N. Michigan Avenue
Chicago, IL

DECEMBER 2010

Illinois State Museum Artisans Shop – Gallery

Artisans Showcase
The James R. Thompson Center
100 W. Randolph St., Ste. 2-200
Chicago, IL

October – December 2010
Mentions & Features

Vanderbilt Magazine, Spring 2013

Prologue: Arts & Culture, pg. 13
Jewelry designer Tamra Gentry, MEd’98, takes a closer look at her medium

2013
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