We had the good fortune of connecting with Shira Brown and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Shira, can you tell us more about your background and the role it’s played in shaping who you are today?
I was born and raised in Massachusetts, just outside of Boston. I grew up with a family that was always incredibly supportive of my dreams and aspirations and I was made to feel that anything was possible with hard work and determination. From the young age of 5 years old I would wake up early to grab my sketch paper and pencils, and sit with “Captain Bob” on the TV, practicing my drawing. Around the same age I was also carrying around my “Fisher Price” doctor’s kit, proudly checking my dolls and family members with my stethoscope in the back yard. My love of art and natural inclination to “create” never faltered and remained an important part of my childhood and adolescence, but my love for science and desire to pursue a career in medicine became the driving force in my young adulthood. Knowing that I was supported in either direction was a huge gift. I went on to complete medical school and achieve my dream of becoming a pediatrician and the first doctor in my family. I tried hard to keep art in my life, taking as many classes as my schedule would allow, sketching detailed anatomical drawings as I studied, and dabbling in crafting jewelry for family and friends. As busy as I was academically, I never really put to rest the “other half” of myself. I married my high school sweetheart after college and we started our family just before I graduated from medical school. We were young parents! It was hard but fun. The years that followed were focused on my medical residency, the birth of our three children and establishing our careers. By the time of my 40th birthday in 2019 I had finally reached a point where I felt like I had come up for air. As soon as this happened, my art and creativity flooded in to fill the space that I had been missing for so long. I felt like I was BECOMING WHOLE again. I took my first metalsmithing course in 2019 and have been working relentlessly to refine and expand my skill set since then. Metalwork sparked a fire in me and I am so grateful for that. Interestingly, my father was a self-taught machinist and metal worker by trade and it has been yet another gift to be able to share this journey with him at this point in our lives.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I pride myself on being completely focused and mindful about every piece of jewelry I send out into the world. Metalwork is a form of meditation – my eyes, my hands and my breath are given to each piece 100% as I am working on it, from start to finish. No two pieces will ever be the same and I like to think that each is created with positive intent to bring joy to the individual it lands with. I believe that jewelry should be beautiful and functional, but most importantly, should make one feel something that goes deeper than that. Metalsmithing is challenging and the learning curve is steep. I have a deep appreciation for the nuances of this art and often lean on mentors I have had the good fortune to meet along the way. One of my first instructors has graciously taken me under her wing. It reminds me of when I tried to learn to ice skate as a kid; my teacher noticed that I was struggling and put her hands on my waist to take me around the rink, making me feel as if I was floating. We all need that kind of support sometimes and I hope to return the favor to someone else one day.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I spend time every weekend in the woods, hiking and just enjoying nature. This is where I draw a lot of my inspiration and it helps me to feel grounded, which is so important in today’s world. If a friend were visiting, I would take them to some of my favorite trails, hike to the peak of Noanet Woodlands to see the Boston skyline and then visit my favorite farm across the street for a picnic lunch. The era of Covid19 has brought us all back to basics and I am realizing more than ever that a rustic picnic and a glass of wine is just as nice as a fancy dinner out… This being said, when Covid is behind us, we are going back to the Havana Club for a little salsa!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I am incredibly grateful for the support of my husband. We started dating when I was just fifteen years old, so in a way, we “grew up” together. He has been by my side during this journey from the very start and has supported me in every way — from being home with our babies while I did 30-hour shifts during my residency, to creating a home studio space for me in 2019. I could never have been where I am today without his support and encouragement and am so happy that even as a young teen I was able to recognize what a gem I had found in him.
all images are my own.