Theresia Kyalo – Turning Art Into Jewelry

Kenyan Jewelry Designer, Theresia Kyalo.
  • Photo by Edwin Njeru

Theresia Kyalo (pictured) is a trained Kenyan lawyer, entrepreneur, multidisciplinary artist and jewelry designer. Kyalo works with textile, paper, film, brass and metal.

Theresia Kyalo – Beginnings, Growth, Projects and Exhibitions

Kyalo studied Law at the Riara University in Nairobi, Kenya. She hoped to eventually become a diplomat hence her course pick and graduated with a Bachelor of Laws degree in 2020. However, the 24 year old was lucky to discover her passion for art along the way. While still in Law School, she began experimenting with art forms in 2016 and particularly, line drawing. Kyalo therefore considers herself, a self-taught artist.

As her curiosity for all things art grew, so did her hunger for further exploration. Soon enough, her line drawing was inspiring jewelry designs. Kyalo chose brass as the material for her jewelry due to its affordability. At first, she needed an artisan to teach her how to work with brass. And although she admits that many artisans did not really seem to understand her ideas, she eventually got one who did and works with the artisan on her jewelry pieces.

Kyalo often collaborates with other artists in her work. In addition, she exhibits her complete jewelry pieces in physical shows and in digital forums in both video and photograph format. In 2019, she exhibited and ran workshops with 5 other artists at the 7 days in November exhibition in Nairobi. In that same year, she released her Body Pieces collection of handcrafted brass jewelry. Each item in the collection had a Swahili title derived  from the part of the body it imitates e.g. mboni for eyeball, kidole gumba for thumb among others.

Kenyan Jewelry designer, Theresia Kyalo

A Kinga Pua piece loosely translated to mean “protect the nose” from Theresia Kyalo’s Body Pieces Collection.

Her next project was 11 Stages of Awakening, a visuals-heavy editorial of her products. Furthermore, she released the Ode to Adinkra Symbols collection which was inspired by the Adinkra symbols of the Akan tribe of Ghana and Gyaman tribe of Ivory Coast. This would eventually transform into an illustration series by Kenyan Visual Artist, Edwin Njeru.

In 2020, Kyalo released the Duara ni Mviringo (circles and spheres) collection. She describes this particular collection as a deeper exploration on the use of design and structure to create beautiful pieces to adorn the body. Recently, the artistic jewelry designer has collaborated with Adele Dejak and Love Studio.

Worth mentioning is that 2020 seems to be the year for Theresia Kyalo, Covid-19 notwithstanding. In July 2020,  her jewelry brand was signed by American singer and songwriter, Beyoncé Knowles, on the artist’s Black-Owned Business Directory dubbed Black Parade. This spells much more visibility, possible sales and lucrative deals and collaborations both locally and internationally for the young jewelry designer.

Nigerian singer, songwriter and actress, Tiwa Savage, has since been spotted in Beyoncé’s 2020 musical film and visual album, Black is King, wearing the Kinga Pua piece from Theresia Kyalo’s Body Pieces Collection.

Kenyan Jewelry deisgner, Theresia Kyalo

The Uso Mzunguko (surrounding face) piece by Theresia Kyalo.

Jewelry Suitability, Availability and Covid-19

Kyalo describes her pieces as non-binary meaning they can be worn by both men and women. She further states that they can be used to style the cast for theatre or TV productions or during festivals. The jewelry is available for sale on her Instagram Page and on Ditto Africa, an online marketplace featuring products from a curated community of African and African diaspora brands.

The Covid-19 pandemic has seen Kyalo not being able to go to the studio to work on her jewelry pieces. However, she has had time to embark on making her own prints which has resulted in curtains, tote bags and other apparel. She has also started experimenting with glass and ceramics as art materials.

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