Tia Salmela Keobounpheng is a 2018 Next Step Fund Grantee and a 2017 Minnesota State Arts Board Grantee. Her current sculptural work merges metal and weaving and addresses themes of women's work, women's armor, blood memory, baggage, emergence and granting one's self permission.
Tia has spent much of her life exploring the connections between art, craft, design and architecture. Growing-up with an architect father meant she developed an intuitive and critical approach to design and a keen attention to detail at a young age. After graduating with a BA degree in Architecture from the University of Minnesota, she co-founded Silvercocoon with her husband in 2001 as a means to work on creative projects across disciplines. In December 2007 she launched her laser-cut jewelry collection with a solo-trunk show in the Walker Art Center shop. Her collection has evolved over the years, expanding incrementally as she grows and learns new skills – most recently silver-smith skills. Deeply rooted in her Finnish heritage and inspired by the time spent living there as a teen, Tia strives to create timeless design that is simple and comfortable with a twist of playfulness. From 2017-2019, Tia maintained daily watercolor practice that revitalized her connection to Fine Art after twenty years and has allowed her to step into her most authentic self as a practicing artist.
My work is rooted in intuition, materiality, and process. It is inspired by the ancient, the modern, the female experience, and the act of granting oneself permission. It is deeply personal and tied to my own process of emergence but the themes are universal. What was once suppressed, quieted, and made palatable was given oxygen by coming-of-age maturity, the MeToo movement, and a permission slip. Through an intuitive process of multidisciplinary handwork, I follow a vision into material manifestation. Themes of women’s work, women’s armor, blood memory, permission, and transformation emerge in ways I don’t always envision and new layers of meaning materialize. It is only through facing ourselves that we can begin to change the injustices in the world. Twenty years ago I did not see an example of the kind of artist I wanted to be. I’m finally brave enough to become that artist, myself.