Tia Salmela Keobounpheng
Tia Keo is an artist/designer/maker living and working in North Minneapolis - MN. Born on the Iron Range of Northern Minnesota, and moving to Duluth at the age of 12, Tia grew-up seeing the world through house elevations on trace-paper and exploring construction sites on site-visits along side her architect Dad.
Cello, photography, and theater consumed her high school years. An exchange year in Oulu, Finland, Tia gained a second architect-father and an equally special insight into the art and design of Finland. She studied color theory, sculpture & drawing and learned how to knit, but it was learning to weave at the community weaving center (with a couple old Finnish ladies) that allowed her to discover her love of working with her hands.
She studied weaving for a year at University of Wisconsin-Superior, and again the following year at Univeristy of Minnesota-Duluth. Increasingly she found it difficult to see a path before her as a weaver and she decided to transfer from Fine Arts to Liberal Arts in order to shift her focus to architecture.
After graduating with a BA degree in architecture from the University of MN in 2000, Tia and her husband founded their design company Silvercocoon in 2001 as a means of working on small projects across disciplines. An art sale in their Airstream camper in July 2001 launched their business and it has grown to offer residential design services, sculptural art installations, small home decor and jewelry.
Tia launched her line of laser-cut jewelry at a solo trunk show at the Walker Art Center shop in December 2007. Since then her jewelry has been sold in many of the most renowned museum and gallery stores across the country.
In spite of these successes, Tia found herself in a state of burn-out in 2014. For several years she worked to really understand the “why” of what she was choosing to do. She returned to weaving for the joy of it during a focused 7-weekend solo retreat in 2016 and that spawned a return to working more with her hands - including learning new metalworking skills.
A 2017 MN State Arts Board grantee, she acquired new metal-working equipment and time to create a new collection of work. The grant propelled Tia into a new understanding of working as an artist. A 100 day project evolved into a daily watercolor practice that has exceeded 450 days and continues to this day. It was through the exploration in metal that she began to stretch beyond jewelry into small-scale sculpture.
A 2018 Next Step Fund grantee, Tia will dive deeper in to sculpture in order to produce a new collection that will be exhibited in a solo exhibition for the 28th Annual Contemporary Finnish-American show at Finlandia University in Hancock, Michigan.
During this major pivot and growth period, Tia started a 100 day water color project on April 4, 2017 that ultimately turned into an ongoing daily art practice that continues to this day. She posts her piece every day on Instagram (@tiakeo.art)
Three Sixty Five - a solo exhibition chronicling the exploratory work Tia completed between April 4, 2017-April 4, 2018 was exhibited at the American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis during the summer of 2018.