We had the good fortune of connecting with Sol from Mi Corasol Jewelry and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Sol, how has your background shaped the person you are today?
Inevitably, yes. My background and experiences helped shape what I make, and why I make them. I am a maker and activist born in Quito, Ecuador. My family crossed man-made borders when I was 6 years old. Early in life, my religious upbringing shamed and suppressed my queerness. Growing up undocumented and queer, I learned that being silent about my identities and experiences was how I accessed safety. This understanding brought on anxiety and depression throughout my life. Self expression through jewelry and art became a way in which I began to understand my anxiety and depression and provide a platform for my healing.

Working metal into wearable objects such as brooches, pendants, and large scale earrings allowed me to break this silence, and feel seen. Metal is protective, armor-like, and decisive. It has the ability to flash status, promote boundaries, or invite interaction. I make earrings big as shields to project identity and deflect silencing. I call on engagement from my community and its allies with interactive pendants. I invite the language of signage and imagery from the urban landscape onto the body with declaring messages that attract attention to social issues and provoke public discussion.
Using laborious hand-sawn text and images to write messages that center the experiences of my latinx, QTBIPOC, immigrant, and activist communities, I use hand work to engage with meditation and manage my anxiety.
In a culture that often tries to erase me and my community, I make pieces that allow our identities and politics to take up public and physical space. This action decentralizes and destabalizes the cis-white-heteronormativity by pulling at the edges of the margins and continuing to question the systems, norms, and institutions that try to silence us. With Mi Corasol pieces, I center my communities and my experiences as a form of empowerment, visibility and representation.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I am still finding my way into my career by identifying what I want it to look like. I am, however, buidling on what I have learned and what is meaninful to me and my community. After obtaining my BFA in Fiber Arts in 2012, I focused on financial stability and eventually worked part-time for a nonprofit, Democracy at Work Institute, a national organization which builds the field of worker owned businesses. My goal was to learn as much as I could about worker cooperative and use what I learned to find my way back to a professional practice. In 2016 I was diagnosed with cancer. I became a full-time employee at DAWI to access health insurance. In my new role, I worked with a team in an administrative role to expand the organization’s focus to worker cooperatives formed by undocumented people. I learned about business startups and about the mechanics of working collaboratively and communally.

I was drifting far from my practice which connected me to my body, so I took metalsmith and jewelry classes at Long Beach City College and enrolled in the Jewelry Entrepreneurship Program while I was still working full-time. I was trying to decide whether I was going to pursue graduate school for sculpture, or launch a business. I ultimately decided to self fund my jewelry business. I was drawn to jewelry’s ability to relate intimately to the body. Surviving treatments and surgeries brought me back to my practice. My partner and I made a plan in anticipation of leaving my job, making it possible for me to save up to resume my art practice.

None of these decisions were easy because I finally had a job that allowed me to sustain myself. I loved where I worked and the people I worked with, but I was really unhappy with my actual role in the organization. I felt that my talents were not being utilized and sometimes not even valued, but what I learned in the field was invaluable.

As a business owner now, my biggest challenge is entering an economic structure that has historically, and continuously, meant to exploit labor, consumers, and the planet. It is knowing that my business inherently operates within capitalism, and not outside of it. I know my success must be rooted in consciousness, and so I strive towards producing work that does not exploit the people I represent, the people I sell to, or the planet. I know that my success can also be a form of resistance within a system designed to exploit me and my communities, but I walk the path as consciously as I can.
What I want people to know about the objects I make is that there’s a particular connection between my hands and my brain that I cannot fully explain. When I am feeling a heavy feeling my brain just starts making connections and at the end of it there’s an object that synthesizes what I am feeling or what I want people to know about my experience using the greater context of our culture. For example, what hoop earrings, and nameplates mean to my latinx and POC culture is very particular and important. A statement piece to Mi Corasol means making an unapologetic statement, figuratively and literally.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I would take them to Willow Springs Park and the Colorado Lagoon. Several people I know have been involved in these restoration sites, and what the restoration team has done there in the ecosystem restoration project is remarkable. I absolutely love seeing how intention and beauty connect in my city. I think the itinerary will be filled with bike rides on the beach path, great food from small places like Casa Chakis, and Gusto bread, community events with LB GRRRL Collective and Flora y Tierra, and visits to local small POC owned shops that are really making a transformative difference in Long Beach like Plantiitas, Adelitas, and Pages Against the Machine.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
The first person to really step in and say “What makes you happy, and how can I support you get there?” was my partner Tina Southern, before that I think I was just trying to survive. Her actions and unwavering support through encouragement and the promise of stability has played a huge role in my ability to jump into my practice and explore what I wanted to say with it. Second and as important is Kristin Beeler. My teacher, mentor, and advocate from the Long Beach City College Jewelry Entrepreneurship program. She saw my talent and ambitions and has not stopped finding me opportunities and coaching me in navigating the field. She goes above and beyond to make sure that the field does not overlook me and my messages.

Website: https://thestrawfactory.com/home/amy/

Instagram: @mi_corasol

Other: Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/shop/micorasol

Image Credits
Sara Ray, Thomas R. Cordova, Sol, Sol, Sol, Sol, Christian I. Solis, Christian I. Solis

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