As a jeweler I’m interested in the animacy of objects. When my pieces are worn, they’re activated - that is, their story and felt sense of meaning are brought to life."
Jeweler and educator Sewit Sium has been crafting powerful jewelry imbued with living African history for over a decade. Prior to starting her company in 2015 of the same name, she taught Fashion Activism and Design in various NYC High schools. “I used jewelry - the oldest form of decorative arts as an educational tool, as primary document to teach predominantly Black students about their living African lineage, the world and their place in it. The goal is that they view their creations as well as their bodies as sites of knowledge transmission. I want them to internalize that their creations will outlast them, to see themselves as leaders and agents of change who can transform the world of image making authority.”
Sewit’s mission and approach extends to her design practice that she hopes will be adopted by institutions such as the fashion industry, museums and design colleges alike. “it’s important for me to get as indigenous and specific as possible via symbols and motifs, I know the optimal power of jewelry is unlocked when attached to its origin story and makers - to bodies.” Sewit's goal is to create initiatives that serve the reclamation and activation of indigenous objects. “Jewelry is a point of departure, but this is about people and ideas and those who lay claim should get to decide how their culture is accurately interpreted and shared.” Sewit is dedicated to decolonizing the way jewelry is engaged with, “together we can restore it to its rightful place - as documentation, a stunning object of desire and daring catalyst for change”.
Sewit completed her MA at NYU Tisch, where her thesis was entitled Activation: Jewelry and the Body, Sites and Tools for Liberation.