Monday, February 20, 2012

Shannon Shiang - the "key master" and so much more

It's late Sunday morning in a sunny Manhattan apartment in Tribeca, a few blocks from Chinatown.  Joined by "the committee" of two Siamese and a black long-hair cat, I sat down to chat with Shannon Shiang, owner of Shiang New York and Skins & Stones jewelry studios where she creates stunning work.  She is also an active member of various art tribes throughout the country, is concerned about the environment and the plight the oppressed.  Immediately I could feel that Ms. Shiang was a genuine and kind spirit.

The conversation started with taking her art to the level of collaborating.  As artists we tend to be very protective of our own work.  It is a delicate balance if and when we choose to share our craft.  Within the communities Shannon is a member of, they mentor, encourage and nurture others, especially those new to tapping into their creativity.  The trust within these groups is strong and has resulted in amazing works, helping her to make this step. She shared with me the first jewelry collaboration she did with Hans Haveron, the scarab pendant.  The work is beautiful and opened the door for all the other work she has done with him.  She also showed me a sketch for an upcoming project she is doing with John Park.  Park has teamed with Haveron on several murals so this choice made sense.

The discussion faded in and out of the tribes subject.  Arts community gatherings play important roles in Shiang's life.  She is an avid "burner" and also attends Lightning In Bottle.  The events prove to be inspirational, spiritually refreshing and an opportunity to stretch her own talent while helping others do the same.  This year, Shannon chose to use her art to create a talisman for the camp she is a member of at Burning Man.  It is a key that depicts the Burning Man logo as the pupil of the Eye of Inner Vision.  The key unlocks that sight.  Shiang also gifted keys to other attendees who were positive and shared goodwill.

Burning Man was also where "Sepia's Key" first appeared. Shannon, inspired by Haveron's painting and Adam Lambert's tattoo created the first prototype which she shared with both men on The Playa. A copy was gifted to Sauli Koskinen, Lambert's partner. She and Hans then began the process of working out what will become the final product that will be available for purchase very soon.  Sadly, since the announcement of the project, a knock-off of the pendant has turned up on eBay.  Both artists hope that people will note that this is not their work and will wait to purchase the real one.  This situation has affected the release date of their keys that they were hoping to coincide with the release of Lambert's sophomore album, "Trespassing".  The Skins & Stones timeline has been moved up and the first batch of keys should be available very soon.  Note that the approved pendants will bear both the Skins & Stones and Haveron Studios logos.

The "Skins and Stones" line is the more organic line and the one where all her collaborative work can be found while Shiang New York designs is more stylized and inspired by sacred symbolism.  One piece in particular draws from Tibetan Buddhism. A dog tag that depicts the sacred mandala that the monks use for meditation and spiritual healing was designed and is being sold to raise funds for Free Tibet, a non-profit that is very dear to Ms. Shiang.  One of my personal favorite pieces from this line is the Phoenix necklace which Shannon was wearing.  In a follow-up email Sunday night, she shared to whole legend with me. Like most people I knew the part about the old phoenix self-immolating only to have the new bird rise from the ashes.  However, I did not know that the old phoenix builds a nest of cinnamon twigs that also burns.  Also that those ashes are encased in an egg of myrrh, that the young phoenix deposits it in the Egyptian city of Heliopolis.

To learn more about Shannon Shiang visit Shiang New York, Skins & Stones, follow her on Twitter or friend her on Facebook.


  1. A gifted artist and an amazing article! Stellar combination! Thank you...

  2. The one on Ebay is pewter with a nickle plating, sOmething I'd never buy. Too cheap a material. I want a sterling silver one. I can't wear anything else due to allergies. Plus the one on Ebay the stem part is too thick. It doesn't look good. I'll wait.