Artist Pays Homage to Her Culture Through Jewelrycsudhbulletin October 8, 2019 0 COMMENTS
By Destiny Torres-Bolanos
Typically, jewelry is a way to decorate an outfit and make yourself look more elevated or flashy. In many traditional cultures, jewelry was a way to show class or societal status. For jewelry-maker Elena Palomino, however, it’s an art form that connects her to her Native culture.
“My culture is very important to me,” Palomino said. “It’s everything that I am.”
Palomino sells her creations on the East Walkway at California State University, Dominguez Hills as Elena’s Kreations. At her table, you can find a variety of different pieces from rings to necklaces to earrings. Everything is made from a wide range of different materials like beads, metals, and crystals.
“I don’t think very hard about what I’m using or the colors,” Palomino said. “Creating is a very natural thing for me.”
She uses this set-up as a way to teach students about her culture. Palomino was born in Peru to a family of creatives. In her family, making jewelry is a tradition that has been passed from generation to generation. Her grandmothers not only made jewelry, but they also practiced making natural medicines. She found inspiration in their ability to heal and create art.
“My grandmothers taught me everything I know,” Palomino said.
The creative artist arrived in the United States back in 1984. When she arrived, she knew right away that she wanted to create a way that she can share her art and her family’s traditions with other people.
This is what pushed her to create her business. Based in Orange County, Elena’s Kreations not only sells jewelry, but exhibits art that inspires Palomino, such as work by Frida Kahlo.
Palomino finds jewelry making to be a spiritual act that connects her to her ancestors and keeps her culture alive. Having a relationship with nature and her faith is a big priority for her.
Students at CSUDH always return for her unique jewelry pieces or to simply enjoy conversation with the creator. Palomino loves to speak about her craft and teach others about traditions and spirituality.
“I think her jewelry is very unique,” Yessica Chavez, a junior anthropology major said.
Elena Palomino is usually located on the East Walkway twice a week where she uses her art to show CSUDH students and faculty that jewelry can be more than just an accessory.