Global Health Nexus, Winter 2002

Brenda Dawkins: An Artist Follows Her Bliss

As someone who has painted, played classical piano, andwritten poetry and short stories since childhood, Brenda Dawkins, manager of the Ashman Department of Implant Dentistry, realized early on that artistic creation is her haven and fulfillment. Today, Brenda’s artistry focuses on the ancient African art of beading. “When I’m beading” she says, “it’s like stepping into another world. I’m in bliss.”

All of Brenda’s jewelry pieces are one-of-a-kind. In celebration of her heritage, the earrings, necklaces, and bracelets are highly Afrocentric in design. However, she also draws inspiration form Bali and Nepal, both cultures which aspire to spiritual transcendence. Her medium is strictly beads, usually in earth tones, and in
a wide range of materials including amber, batik bone, semi-precious stones, and glass. All of her pieces use sterling silver and gold-overlaid sterling silver to give an antique finish. Some of her favorite materials are chevron glass beads and trade beads, which are highly regarded in Africa.

Until recently, when she decided to present her work to a larger audience, people would stop Brenda on the street because they liked a piece of jewelry she was wearing. But regardless of how much they tried to persuade her to duplicate it for them, she would refuse. She insists that every piece must be the product of a unique artistic inspiration. The distinctive pieces she creates can take anywhere from several hours to several months to complete, depending on their complexity.

Looking at Brenda’s art, one feels that each piece resonates with the same sense of deep calm that emanates from the artist herself, inviting others also to follow their “bliss.”