This Artist Uses Tiny Jewelry Boxes as Canvases

Christmas in Durban, 2017, Curtis Talwst Santiago

A jewelry box is not just a place to store necklaces and rings — at least, that’s what Curtis Talwst Santiago believes.

For more than a decade, Santiago, a Canadian-Trinidadian artist, has been using jewelry boxes as the base for his artistic creations — all of which are part of an ongoing collection called the Infinity Series.

Fridas Entry Into Iguala, 2015, Curtis Talwst Santiago

Deluge, 2015, Curtis Talwst Santiago

Santiago creates miniature scenes within these jewelry boxes. His scenes tell stories of identity, memory, home, intimacy, and more.

In the last few years, the artist has also made many references to his childhood. This includes the recent “Soca in the Suburbs” collection, which features a replica of his parents’ basement with people dancing, laughing, drinking, and enjoying one another’s company.

In a statement about his art that was published on Instagram, Santiago explained that the inspiration for this particular collection emerged during the COVID-19 pandemic. He was specifically inspired when he saw people starting to spend more time at home and even creating small versions of dance clubs in their own houses.

Seeing these events and activities caused Santiago to start thinking about the family members he couldn’t see, as well as the parties he remembered from his youth.

After getting nostalgic for these events, he then got to work on these mini creations to provide his son with “an archive of his family history” and “his cultural heritage.” His goal was to show his son where his family came from, what they wore, and more — in a way that pictures alone can’t always show.

Party Can’t Done, 2020, Curtis Talwst Santiago

Some of Santiago’s pieces were recently on display at the Atlantic World Art Fair, which ran from April 19 to May 5. Those who want to keep up with his work can also follow him on Instagram or visit his website.