photo by Nicole Neri

Artist of the Month: Rosa Kilgore

Written by Jackie Dishner Category: Arts Issue: February 2019
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The metalsmithing jeweler has art in her genes.

Rosa Kilgore was born into a family of Arizona artists and art collectors, the daughter of steel sculptor Linda Margaret Kilgore and granddaughter of Native American art dealer Margaret Kilgore. So, it may not have mattered that the jewelry artist studied sociology at DePaul University in Chicago. Her career was already set in stone – or metal, as fate would have it.

But first she traveled the Southwest working odd jobs. A stop in Los Angeles led her to a metalsmithing class. “It just clicked,” she says. Ten years ago, she moved back home to Arizona to open an art studio in Flagstaff and claim space at her mother’s Scottsdale studio. Her collections are mix-and-match combinations of sterling silver with antique bronze, cultured pearls and semiprecious stones.

“I work with authentic and traditionally feminine materials,” says Kilgore, whose contemporary designs are much less ornate than the squash blossom necklaces she was surrounded with as a child of the Southwest art scene.

“I’m really interested in form,” Kilgore says of her beaded necklaces, silver bracelets and dangling earrings. Her spring collection, called Sumer, features silver cutouts shaped like pyramids. “When I start with silver – it’s usually sheet – I cut out the shape I want using a coping saw. I then file the edges and sand them. I drill holes or solder a jump ring or two or three depending on the design... I love texture, so all my pieces are hammered in some way or another,” she says.

Kilgore is hosting a sample sale at Studio AFUERA (6234 N. Cattle Track Rd., Scottsdale) on March 30. Find her work at The Museum Store at Phoenix Art Museum and at rosakilgore.com.