This week in Faces of Kingston we speak to fine jeweler Rebecca Peacock about local inspirations and special aesthetics of the Hudson Valley and various facets of Kingston life past and present. We also touch on her inspiring work, which has a sophisticated and elegant restraint that is informed by ethical practice, a centered outlook and a general love of life.
Morgan Y. Evans: What is your earliest memory of Kingston? Did you always like it here?
Rebecca Peacock: My earliest memories of Kingston were hanging out in my Mother’s scent shop Uptown. I also remember waiting for my grandmother while she shopped at Flahs, in the Kingston Plaza. Or, buying blue high top Reeboks at Yallum’s. I loved coming to work with my mother; it always felt like such a warm community where everyone looked out for each other. That feeling is still with me to this day and defiantly why I have a connection to owning my own shop here in Uptown.
How did you get into the jewelry business?
I worked in libraries in Los Angeles. I thought my plan would be to get my library science degree. However, one can only get a master of arts in library science. So, I thought I’d get my undergraduate degree in fine art. Once I began learning metalsmithing, that was it.
You use reclaimed materials, according to your website. Can you elaborate on that and talk about why it is important to you?
Yes, I do, as much as I can and in addition I also like to use local minerals. There are a lot of beautiful minerals that are found locally. Herkimer diamonds — which are actually quartz, not diamond — quartz crystals, tourmaline and garnet. I’ve made some very special custom engagement rings that incorporate these stones.
How has it felt to see the changes in the Hudson Valley over the years? What are some of your favorite things to do here in Kingston?
Having been someone who has seen a lot of Kingston’s stages — it’s wild, a lot of same types of issues happen again and again and again. Some changes are good and some are not so good. I loved participating in and going to O+ Festival. It’s a very special event and fills me with deep love for this community. Lately, I’ve been tuning into Kingston Radio and streaming it in the shop — all the programming is fantastic. The African Roots Library is also very great. And, I’m interested to see what the Good Work Institute is up to here in Kingston and curious about the projects they have ahead. They seem like a great group of folks.
What made you decide to return to this area after living in California? What would you say are the pros and cons of both here or there for you? I associate California with, like, listening to Incubus on the beach [laughs].
I moved home from the West Coast to be closer to family and my grandmother was sick. The East Coast and West Coast are so different you can’t compare, both places hold tremendous depth. I miss surfing and I miss Venice Beach in the ’90s, but to be honest, I’m very happy here. I like the quiet solitude of winter, the monochromatic landscapes winter brings, and the ways the open fields turn golden colors.
Do you feel like Kingston has healthy respect for the arts or could we still do some things better?
Yes, this is something that is changing for the good. We can always focus more on reinvesting in our community with art programs in general.
What inspires the look of a lot of the jewelry in your collections? Your collection has really beautiful and fluid aesthetics. None of it is gaudy and it is all somewhat dreamy or soothing, while still being glamorous.
Real life informs my work in many ways, like the feeling of a summer afternoon at the creek. Being an artist to me revolves around an honest inner reflection on who am I and what is it I have to say. I’ve never forgotten an interview by Zadie Smith, she said something like no one can write about your childhood neighborhood the way you can, it will be what sets you apart from others. I believe our communities form us and inform our work later. Possibly the searching back for ourselves. This is also why a lot of my work focuses on working with local minerals. I think the true glamour and luxury is in the possibility of the uncomplicated lives we get to live here in the Hudson Valley. I like to think my work reflects that.
Visit www.rebeccapeacock.com to check out her work, our visit her shop on North Front Street.