MFA in Metalwork and Jewelry, Kookmin University (Seoul, Korea), 2007
BFA in Metals and Graphic Design, Miami University (Oxford, Ohio), 2003
Heather Bayless completed her BFA in graphic design and metalwork at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and moved to Seoul, Korea to receive her MFA at Kookmin University with the help of a Fulbright Research Grant. She is currently an instructor at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas. Her jewelry and tableware has been shown in exhibitions throughout the U.S., Europe, and Asia, has been published in several of Lark Crafts’ 500 Series books, and was featured in a cover article in Ornament magazine. She has also received several major awards, twice receiving a Saul Bell Design Award and in 2009 her work earned First Prize out of 3,500 designers for the Massimo Martini Design Award, “Beyond Silver”
I was born in upstate New York, and throughout my life my favorite place to be has been outdoors. Growing up in the countryside with a house surrounded by forest, having a gardener mother, a scientist father, and a curiosity about all things tiny have blended to form the interest I have in plants and living things. Over time I became fascinated by metalwork and design. My work combines these two passions—nature and art—into a body of work that balances between idea, tradition, and image.
I work in the realms of tableware, object, and jewelry, with all pieces holding the concept of containment. I have investigated the scientific structures and functions of botanical fertility forms, including seeds, bulbs, and spores, and their three main functions of containment of the embryo, storage of energy, and dispersal from the mother plant into nature. Many of my jewelry pieces physically open to be used as pomanders or lockets, some are left hollow inside to be considered conceptual containers, and others use an interior mirror to contain light and give the illusion of a larger space.
Since moving to Kansas from the large city of Seoul, I have been exploring the small behaviors of animals around me. In autumn monarch butterflies travel through the region in large groups and sometimes cluster by the hundreds on trees. In the spring there is an influx of songbirds, and I noticed their tendency to nest on or in human made structures. My newest pieces are the beginning of an ongoing investigation of Instinct as a larger theme in my work that I will continue into the foreseeable future.