Words by Genice Phillips
The LIVE Art and Design show, hosted by Boston Caribbean Fashion Week (BCFW) last month, merged inspiration, creativity, and fashion all at once at the newly opened, Caribbean Arts Gallery, located in Boston’s largest and most diverse neighborhood.
Attendees chatted away and snacked on refreshments, while taking in beautiful pieces of artwork, sculptures, and photography from various local and international artists that hail from the Caribbean.
Featured jewelry designer Jacqueline “Jackie” Ortega of Ortega Jewelry Designs, displayed her stunning and provocative jewelry, which ranged from body chains and detailed bracelets to metal bodices. The Puerto Rican designer, who began her line in 2011, was also given the opportunity to make her jewelry in real time, showing off her design skills and talents by draping a simple, yet elegant body chain along with creating metal earrings.
Attendees also had the chance to learn more about Ortega’s design process and how she’s continued to build her brand in an interview with radio VJ and producer Natasha Moore (BigCity FM). POTENT was able to speak with Ortega as well, to find out more about her most recent collection and how her culture inspires her jewelry.
POTENT: When creating your jewelry, do you go more off of feeling or is it more structured?
Ortega: Before I was going with feeling and basing things on the naked eye and whatever was aesthetically pleasing to me. But then I started hanging out with a lot of fashion designers and they inspired me to create themes for my collections.
POTENT: Tell me about your most recent line, S/S 2015 Mermaids & Sirens of The Sea, and the extension of that line, Androgynous Siren, that you put together.
Ortega: I was inspired by this mermaid/siren in the sea and I wanted something scale-like and that’s where the chainmail and scalemail came from. My color scheme, the original one, was focusing on the mermaid, so I used purple and then the siren was in black. I wasn’t done with it and so I decided to extend the line and I did the Androgynous Siren and you see the gold, black, and bronze [color scheme] because it [the collection] was about the sexy allure of a woman and the same with a man. But the overall line is about the strong individual – I didn’t want it to necessarily identify with a male or female.
POTENT: How has your culture impacted your work and your art?
Ortega: I’m really proud of who I am as person. I was really inspired by family growing up and they’re very deep in their roots. My mom was very artistic, she used to make floral arrangements and bouquets, party favors for bridal and baby showers and my dad would actually cut metal and make these really cool boats out of beer bottles, so I was always around artistic people that made things and that’s part of my culture.
POTENT: How has Boston supported you and your design career?
Ortega: [Boston has been] Very supportive. I feel very fortunate to have all these opportunities presented to me. My family all lived in Boston and had moved to Florida, and I was considering moving there as well, about 2 years ago. But then I said to myself ‘No, you have a chance here in Boston and can make your name here.’ And it was one of the best decisions I ever made.