Ruby Jack Meets: Yetunde Olagbaju & Kandice Kardell


We talk to two incredible creatives about their own practice and what drew them to wear Ruby Jack.
Visual Artist Yetunde Olagbaju
Photograph by Jacob Cruz-Rine
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Please tell me a bit about your current creative practice/projects and what work you're most excited about right now.
Right now I'm most excited about a solo show I'm working on for summer 2021! I've been working on some bronze sculpture, writing, and paintings for the show and it'll be my first solo show since 2017. I'm feeling a lot of anticipation and joy surrounding it and the new work I'm making. It's been a true privilege to be able to build a disciplined studio practice that allows for me to rest and reflect simultaneously!
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What inspired you to wear Ruby Jack, and which designs did you choose?
I came across Ruby Jack after looking for the perfect jewelry for special events. I wanted something that was both gorgeous, and had pearls. The first style I fell in love with were part of the Good Intentions capsule. I saw them and knew they would be a beautiful compliment to any evening wear or just casual jeans and a blouse. It also felt like magic because I had been thinking a lot about pearls, how metaphoric they were, and about creating new heirlooms. I see Ruby Jack as that kind of designer -- new heirlooms for us to cherish and become bonded with.
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Who or what are you creating for, other than for yourself?
I’m creating for my ancestors and for the ones to come. I’m creating for other Black femmes and care givers. I’m creating for a future that is possible and bright and better than this one.
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What is one of the biggest challenges for you as an artist, turning your creativity in to something that can pay the bills as well as keep you sane?
One of my biggest challenges is saying no. I’m working on it though.
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What does the adornment of jewellery mean to you and how does it make you feel?
To me adornment is protect, an extension of self, an expression of joy. I think about the family heirlooms that have been passed down to me. Jewelry that my great grandmother wore close to her. Adornment like that also acts as time travel. It makes me feel connected and whole and like what I do in this world will matter even after I’m gone.
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What is the most important piece of creative advice you have ever received?
The best advice I ever received was “just make it”. Often times we can get in our head about what we’ll make. Whether it is perfect to us, complete, useful, etc. But (as long as it isn’t appropriative or racist) you should just make whatever you want. Don’t feel pressure to be an expert at it. It’s perfect just as it is and, if you keep at it, you can grow.
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Describe your ideal Friday night (but keep it family friendly).
Right now I’m missing dancing on the dance floor and singing along to the songs, surrounded by friends and crushes. Dancing with a lot of my friends at a dimly lit bar, to really good music, after a fun/intimate dinner party with friends is truly all I want right now.
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To find out more about Yetunde's work, you can visit their website here
and their instagram: @asensualsojourn
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Visual Artist Kandice Kardell
Photograph by Robert Brandan Martinez

Please tell me a bit about your current creative practice/projects and what work you're most excited about right now.
I am fascinated by the death/desire relationship, so the era of COVID-19 has been interesting—maybe even a little motivating—for my art practice. My current work is a meditation on collective grief and its manifestation through language and textile. I'm using the Coronavirus Corpus, donated clothing, and paper to quilt and weave contemporary stories—paying homage to an experience many are trying to deny as life presses on. All materials are treated with the cyanotype alternative photographic process or with natural dyes. I expect the flow of my practice to soon change because I am pursuing residency in Portugal and hope to move sometime in May! I crave an artistic community, and that is what I am most excited about creating once I arrive.
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What inspired you to wear Ruby Jack, and which designs did you choose?
I first saw Ruby's designs in 2018, at a boutique in Phoenix called Noons. I was attracted to the bold blue patina and elegant curves of Gia Lovers. I ultimately chose Gia Lovers in brass, but I'm still eyeing another design in blue! Since that first purchase, I've collected Tiger Hoops, Opus Earrings, and Iris Earrings. Ruby's designs look and feel timeless. Her pieces give any outfit a hint of glamour, and they encourage you to step out into the world with more confidence.
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Who or what are you creating for, other than for yourself?
I create to make the taboo accessible, the brutal feminine and to celebrate life and death with adornment, embellishment and ritual. I create for people who love intimate works of art in their homes.
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What is one of the biggest challenges for you as an artist, turning your creativity into something that can pay the bills as well as keep you sane?
Finding and maintaining my audience. I have never been for want of inspiration or vision, but a willing audience is absolutely necessary. Without viewers or patrons we risk losing steam by just talking to ourselves.
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What is the most important piece of creative advice you have ever received?
An art professor once told me that I needed to stay grounded. I'm not exactly sure what he meant at the time—after all I was 22—but his remark certainly pops up from time to time and I give that memory a wink and a nod. Lately, staying grounded means saying 'no' to ideas, materials, requests - to diversions. It means slowing down and ignoring the noise to stay the course. If I had taken that advice 100% to heart, though, I might have chosen to limit myself far too much. Creativity feeds off exploration and is funnelled through restraint. Conversely, I try not to stay too grounded.
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What does the adornment of jewellery mean to you and how does it make you feel?
I adorn myself with jewelry to celebrate life—my unique experience and place in time. Adornation is a part of my ritual and rituals provide continuity even in the face of chaos. I find a parallel between jewelry adornment, and the embellishment of my art practice. To adorn is to pay homage to life and death.
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Describe your ideal Friday night (but keep it family friendly)
I'm wearing a lush perfume, a bold lipstick, and a dress that caresses my skin with every step. It's springtime and I smell orange blossoms as I walk along a river in a city. I'm walking from dinner to the theatre, from a smooth bottle of red wine to a row of galleries, from a rich dessert to an evening of dancing—I don't know which. It isn't a wild night, but it's slow like honey and my senses are enraptured. Before COVID I probably would have said my ideal Friday is camping underneath the stars, but my desire dial is currently off the charts and my senses are standing by.
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To find out more about Kandice's work, you can visit their website here.
and their instagram: @kandicekardell