Talking with Mumbi O'Brien
Artist, Model, Creative, and Jeweler
Photos courtesy of Mumbi O'Brien | Smiling Frown Jewelry
A PIECE OF JEWELRY FROM SIMILING FROWN JEWELRY. LEFT | MUMBI'S GRANDMOTHER, WHO COLLABORATES WITH HER ON THE LINE.
Mumbi O'Brien was born in Blacksburg, Virgina and moved to South Florida when she was nine years old. A creative soul she currently works in performance and video art and is one-half of the creative team behind Smiling Frown Jewelry. She also has a BFA in painting from the Rhode Island School of Design, models and curates a kick-ass Instagram account.
How did you start making jewelry?
Everything I know about jewelry making I learned from my grandmother. She started silversmithing in the early 1970's when my dad's family briefly moved to a military base in Fort Walton Beach, FL. There was a rock and gem club that offered silversmithing lessons so she seized the opportunity.
My whole life, for Christmas presents she would give me and my mother rings or necklace pendants she had made and I had been wanting her to teach me for some time. It never quite worked because I was either away at college or she lived too far but a couple years ago she moved close to my parents house so she brought all of her jewelry making supplies over to my art studio and every Monday she would come over and we would work on something.
Some of your pieces are inspired by her work, how do you meld that with your more modern aesthetic?
I think because I learned from her it is natural that a lot of our pieces look related, but I would say overall my jewelry is a bit more minimalist with less ornamentation. I like to use a lot of raw stones/gems in which the silver is merely a structural support or have pieces where the silver acts as an uninterrupted plane on which the stone resides; ultimately leaving the stone as the main focus.
You have modeled for a few local Miami brands – how did that start?
Most of the modeling that I've done up until this point has been either for friends or friends of friends in apparel design or photography. More recently though, people have started reaching out through Instagram which has been pretty cool.
Where can people see your work – jewelry or modeling or otherwise?
My line of jewelry is available for view on Instagram –@smilingfrownjewelry. In terms of fine art, I will be donating some works to Locust Projects annual Smash and Grab fundraising event that takes place on October 29th, which I am greatly looking forward to.
View Mumbi O'Brien's artists work.
Smiling Frown Jewelry | Available online.