Hailing from Detroit, Michigan, multidisciplinary artist Tiff Massey began her career in metalsmithing, where she created jewelry for purely aesthetic reasons. But soon, she felt something was lacking. Her beautiful jewelry was pretty to look at, but lack any depth or story. After completing her degree in biology, Massey continued her education by taking a master’s degree in fine art, exploring what metalsmithing can do as a storytelling device.
Massey’s works are always rooted in the African American vernacular and their experiences. She draws inspiration from a variety of topics, like the hip hop scene or the beauty shops, commenting on racial stereotypes and class separation. As skilled as she is with metal smithing, she works with whatever materials she feels will tell her story the best. One of her recent works, Some Patterns Hold Weight, deals with gingham, a checkered fabric commonly used as picnic blankets, and how its creation is inseparable from the American cotton industry — and slavery.
It is never enough to take a quick glance at Massey’s works. They are layered upon layers and layers of meanings and symbolism, confronting us with the realities of the world.