Kerry Bourgeois

   "Born in New Orleans, La. on December 23, 1954. While his father was in the Marine Corps, he had the opportunity to see much of the country growing up. Traveling from one coast to the other being stationed on or near various military bases made life very interesting. His mother, also a very talented artist in her own right, came from a family of artists, but never had the chance to do much with it in the commercial sense. Although she did teach some, about ceramics and painting, she encouraged her son to develop his own artwork through the images his mother sculpted, painted and drew. It was an inspiring environment to be raised in.

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   At the age of 6, while admiring a large piece of agate while lying on the floor on his back, the rock slipped out of his hands and struck him in the head. Don't know what that was about but it was a love hate relationship with rocks ever since. Always fond of how beautiful rocks could be, from his grandparent's rock garden when they lived on the north Umpqau River in Oregon in the early 1960s, there was an endless supply of beauty there, agates and thunder eggs. They even built walls and fireplaces out of the agate lying around. It was everywhere. He also realized at the age of 7, that there was some sense of artistic ability to draw, but it didn't come to fruition until he was about 12 and then it became apparent in such a way it was dumbfounding to him. So, off to private drawing lessons and again being encouraged by his mother to appreciate his new found talent, she took him to local art shows to see how others painted. While his father was in Okinawa, Japan the family was stationed just outside Camp Pendleton in Fallbrook, Ca. There was a gentleman that lived across the street from him that had a very large gemstone collection and he would throw out his smaller crystals by the side of the road the kids in the neighborhood called the rock pile. It was like discovering gold to a young rockhound."

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   After his father returned from Vietnam War in the early 1970's, they moved to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. There his artwork in painting, drawing and jewelry came to life. During the first week at Lejeune high school, he had shown his art teacher Doug Parker some of the pieces he had painted and the very next day he had to break the news to him that someone broke into his office and stole his paintings. How sad, but how thrilling that someone thought so well of his art that they would steal it. The paintings sort of mysteriously reappeared a week later because a threat of expulsion was sent out to the students they thought were responsible. Doug Parker was and still is an extraordinary teacher, he saw the potential in his students talent and did what he could to draw that out of them. He had such a profound influence on him at that time, it was the one person he respected there as a teacher more than anyone. Many students that sat under Parker have felt the same sentiment as well. Some 30 years after leaving the area, Kerry was able to track down Doug Parker via the Internet and express his gratitude for the influence he had on his life at that time. Parker was able to allow the students to do independent studies in whatever medium they chose and sought to encourage his students to try new things. Jewelry fabrication and lapidary work was what interested Kerry. Gold back then, he said, was $32 per ounce. It was his first experience working in gold, silver and working with stone cutting and lapidary equipment. It's what caused him to dream about being a Graduate Gemologist and studying about gemstones. He kept that dream alive for 25 years when he attended the GIA campus in Carlsbad, Ca. through their home study courses and week long workshops to complete his training to graduate a few years ago. The independent study didn't stop there in Parker's art classes, it's what fueled Kerry to study other types of artwork and become self taught in many other forms of art. Painting, jade carving, drawing, photography and jewelry fabrication and stone setting. He studied under various masters like Kent Riable, Jean Stark, Cecelia Bauer, Bessie Jamison, Joanne Seeto, and Alan Revere, learning gold granulation, enameling techniques, various lapidary skills.

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   Now, most recently translating his inlay jewelry pieces into doing larger inlay pieces on wood boxes. Using a multitude of material, some very exotic, from fossil ivories to meteorites, he specializes in the use of pearlescent shell, exotic wood, composite stone, semi precious and precious stone, and metal inlays. The inlays are engraved and inked with linework, an unusual form of artwork not seen other than with working luthiers who inlay guitars, of which Larry Robinson in some ways has been a mentor of his. Larry has inlayed some of the most expensive guitars in the world. Larry's book on inlay work lit a fire under Kerry to see his own potential and push forward with new techniques using new materials and imagery.

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   One particular inlay piece Kerry did, with three Celtic dogs on it, was given to his mother a few years back. It was recently swept away during the Katrina Hurricane. His parents had retired and lived in Slidell, La. at the time and to his mother's dismay, the house though still standing had a six-foot tidal surge clean the house out of its belongings including the inlay with the three Celtic dogs on it. His mother found the piece in 2 inches of mud and was able to salvage it, but much of their belongings were destroyed or just missing, some of her own artwork included and his that she has collected over the years. One can only imagine how many pieces of artwork from other artists were taken and made state artifacts along the Gulf coast by these devastating hurricanes. His parents were one of the lucky ones to at least still have a home standing. They have since left the area moving north away from the coast.

   Having for years always feeling drawn to Native American culture, intrigued by the artwork that enveloped the Southwest, the jewelry pieces are what fascinated him the most, but there was something deeper that tormented him, but he couldn't put his finger on it. Until one day, his father told him something that nearly made him fall out of his chair. His father, while on a recent trip to California, told Kerry he was the seventh generation grandson of a Choctaw chief, Pushmataha. No one ever talked about it in the family but the lineage was there on paper, yet they knew about it. Some of those deep puzzling unknowns were making complete sense to him now, Finally some answers. He understood the draw to Native culture now." You can reach Kerry at: BOOSHMAN23@aol.com.

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