Using precious gems, minerals and metals, Chan crafts what her heart perceives, and imbues – pendants, rings, necklaces, bracelets, earrings – with symbolism and meaning. Gazing both heavenward and inward, she creates a body of work that invites introspection and affirmation.
“When I was a child growing up in Taiwan after the Second World War, my family would go to our garden after dinner,” said Chan. Her father introduced philosophy and encouraged discussions about Confucius, Napoleon and Churchill. He also talked about the sky, the stars and constellations. “That was a very interesting evening for me and my imagination could go wild,” said Chan. “Little did I know that I would be in Huntsville, Alabama, a center for this study of space.”
Images of celestial bodies complement the artist’s creations. Physical and emotional perspectives are expressed with simple though elegant appeal throughout the exhibition. “We came all this way to explore the moon and the most important thing is that we discovered the Earth,” said Apollo Astronaut William Anders.
Heartfelt and thematic among astronauts, these expressions embrace a sense of true awe.
Dr. Deborah Barnhart, chief executive officer of the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, hopes the exhibit will inspire visitors of all ages to appreciate the science and art of space exploration. “These exquisite pieces remind guests about the importance of dreams and imagination in fueling space exploration.” The exhibit appeals to guests from all walks of life.
“Earth is a gem for us. It’s life,” said Chan. “I hope the young people will use their imagination and discover how beautiful space is, how beautiful the Earth is and that they will be inspired to study space and love the Earth.”
Celestial Dreams, the Art of Space Jewelry includes three dozen works featuring gold, platinum, a variety of pearls, diamonds, topaz, opals, aquamarine, rubies, tourmaline, garnets, amethyst and sapphires. Many pieces transcend from jewelry to decorative arts through clever and unique interlocking combinations. Pendants and earrings, for example, may detach from a necklace to provide the wearer multiple looks from a single piece. “The horizon is wide and there are no limits in my mind about what I am able to do,” said Chan.
Kathy Chan is a world traveler. Her journeys support thoughtful connections to natural and man-made environments that she communicates through artistic works. With the exhibition, “Celestial Dreams: The Art of Space Jewelry,” Chan imagines what a space traveler in our solar system may encounter, giving prominence to the fragile oasis, Earth.
“In this short lifetime of ours, it is important to me to leave an impression and do something positive. Consequently, my designs are filled with symbolism, purpose and meaning. My goal has always been to make my unusual creations as strong and as flawless as possible, while at the same time making a quiet and elegant statement to the beholder,” said Chan. Her jewelry design skills are a result of natural instincts and fearless experimentation.
Chan was born in China, immigrated to Brazil as a child and was married in England. She and husband C.H. (Tony) Chan later moved to Turkey and then the west coast of the United States where Tony taught at the University of California. The Chan family, including two sons and a daughter, eventually made their way to Huntsville, Alabama.
In Huntsville, Chan attended the University of Alabama in Huntsville, earning degrees in French and fine art. With an artist’s instincts and an entrepreneur’s spirit, she soon embarked on a career as a jewelry designer, earning international accolades within five years.