Macha’s All-American Road Trip
Five stops that stuck with Bernice Kelly in a big way.
When a decade spent in an office left Bernice Kelly beyond burnt-out, she took to the open road to clear her head. And when the Irish designer returned to Brooklyn six weeks later, she was so inspired that a jewelry line, Macha, felt like a natural next step. Here, a taste of what spoke to her on her tour of the bottom-half of the U.S. of A. —mattie kahn
Route 66: “This is one of the oldest motels that still exists on Route 66. It’s in…I want to say, Texas or New Mexico. The road itself was quite famous in the fifties and sixties and very associated with beatniks—there isn’t very much left of it, but that was one of the original motels. I tracked it down and spent the night there.”
San Antonio: “I’m a big fan of Western movies, and it seems they still make movies at this location. There were lots of old-style ranches and bars around here, and actors reenact the battle of the Alamo. That was really fun to see.”
Santa Fe: “This photo is from the pueblos in Sante Fe. The day I was there the locals had this feast day, so everyone was dressed in traditional dress. There’s a huge artisan community there as well. It was so different than the beatnik thing or the Western-style ranches that I’d already seen. The diversity of the country just amazed me.”
New Orleans: “The voodoo culture there was brought over by slaves years ago, and people still perform those rituals. You can pray for love or healing—that kind of thing. I suppose the culture really interested me, because, you know, it’s a little dark, but so beautiful.”
Las Vegas: “This photo was taken at a hotel in Las Vegas, which was a place that I visited and truly never expected to like. I prefer more authentic things, I suppose, but I was just amazed by the scale. Everywhere you turn there’s something different to entertain you. It’s just a huge contrast to where I come from.”
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How Anna Sheffield’s Southwestern Past Has Influenced Her Present
Bing Bang’s leading lady goes back to her roots again and again.
A couple pieces from Bing Bang Black Label.
Living on an Indian reservation in New Mexico from the time she was three weeks old, Anna Sheffield of the cultish jewelry label Bing Bang was immersed in the Southwestern culture from an early age. “My baby blanket was a Pendleton Navajo blanket. I remember when my mom took me to sand paiting rituals when I was small, and we hiked in the canyons where all of those beautiful Anasazi ruins are,” she recalls. Her upbringing has, naturally, shaped her design philosophy—especially Anna’s most recent collection, Bing Bang Black Label, the development of which led her to research Native American jewelry. Here, a tour of Anna’s history with the American Southwest. —alisha prakash
“My parents and I in northern New Mexico.”
“This is me on my dad’s back in front of the Anasazi ruins at Mesa Verde. These kinds of cliff dwellings are scattered throughout the mountains and valleys of the Four Corners area. They were inhabited by the ancient Pueblo tribes of that region. The spaces have a really magical quality to them, and the buildings are remarkably sophisticated. They are also a bit stoic and mysterious, as the people apparently vanished or moved on without leaving much behind to explain why.”
ANNA’S FAVORITE NEW MEXICO HAUNTS…
Pasqual’s: “Without fail, I always eat at Pasqual’s in Santa Fe, once if not twice. The place is super-cozy and friendly with murals on the wall and paper banners strung overhead. The food is unbelievable—you know the food is real once you see the line and how many locals are willing to stand in it. New Mexico is famous for its green chiles, which are used in just about everything. They are my favorite thing on earth to eat—well, next to cake—and are sometimes so spicy your ears ring from eating them.” (pasquals.com)
Red Rocks: “The drive up north from Santa Fe is nothing short of enchanting—there are these beautiful cross-sections of red rock formations, mountain ranges, and vistas over gorges and along the flat sides of mesas. It’s pure magic to behold, and it’s the one place where I feel truly at home. This picture was taken on the way around from the Abiquiu side of my favorite drive over to Ojo and on across to Taos.”
WHAT ANNA DISCOVERED WHEN SHE BEGAN HER RESEARCH…
“As a metalsmith, I am as inspired by the process as the end result—particularly in Native American jewelry which is also dear to my heart. I really love these brooches, and how they were such a form of personal expression.”
“The motifs were actually an amalgamation of emblems adapted from Scottish jewelry mixed with traditional native motifs like sun, moons, and wolves. Because the Northeast early-contact tribes moved further and further West, this style of metalsmithing became pervasive all over the East Coast and in the plains. Southwestern jewelry is so different, and I think because I grew up around that, I find these geometric metal pieces really fascinating.”