The first thing I notice about artist Dena Pengas is her asymmetrical, bold, and multi-colored jewelry. At first glance, it appears as if her necklace is made of Lego pieces, but as I get closer I realize that each rectangle is, in fact, glass. The overall effect is elegant, whimsical, and wonderfully cheerful. Later, when we talk, she tells me that she hopes that this piece—one of many that she has created—will “spark nostalgia is the wearer and viewer.”
The 38-year-old Brooklyn-based Pengas recently spoke to me about her work. As the conversation moved from topic to topic, we touched upon parenthood, marriage, work-family balance, and what it means to be socially responsible in a time of backlash and retrenchment.