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Design to Support Your Life


Shea Stanfield
Arts Columnist

Frida Kahlo wrote, “I am happy to be alive, as long as I can create”: A sentiment that local artist Kimberly Cothern can certainly relate to. Growing up, in Independence, Missouri, Kimberly never thought of herself as “creative”, even though she was extremely proficient at coloring inside the lines of her numerous coloring books with a fascinating variety of colors. But Kimberly found as she matured that what she was exceptional at was finding the adventure in life around her. At the age of 19, she picked up and moved to Arizona, where she found eventually found employment with Motorola as an Instructional Designer and Adult Educator. As she would come to realize, “being creative” could take on a multitude of shapes containing a variety of facets!

Once Kimberly transitioned from corporate work, she ventured into classes in seed beadwork with a variety of nationally recognized teachers. Kimberly began to realize within the “order of process” there was a great deal of choice in “variations on a theme” and the adventure began into “creating.” Soon, Kimberly was treading into the arena of silversmithing. This adventure held a particular fascination with its technical aspects and was quite a bit more thrilling. She found holding a lit torch in her non-dominant hand while using her dominant hand to move solder and metal into various positions, without a “complete meltdown” a challenging and occasionally frustrating experience.  She would tell people, “I melt metal, mostly on purpose.”

Kimberly continued her quest for the next adventure in building her ever-growing skill set. As a result, she found the Mesa Arts Center, where she would continue to challenge her metal working sensibilities. But life would hold a large adventure for her upon receiving a cancer diagnosis. Without a doubt, this required Kimberly’s full attention, as well as her creative determination for a period of time. When she was able to resume classes, she found she needed to “start all over again.” But this time things were different. She found she wasn’t as intimidated by the torch…after all, she had beaten cancer! This newfound confidence found Kimberly approaching her jewelry making with a whole new confidence and her skill development took off. As Kimberly would relate, “The more relaxed I became, the fewer saw blades and drill bits I broke and my work became infused with quiet confidence.” This became the foundation for her company name, Simple Strength Studio. 

Simple Strength Studio design has an esthetic of clean modern lines and pieces you will love to wear every day. Kimberly’s guiding philosophy is, “I would like the wearer of my jewelry to be reminded of their personal innate strengths.” The goal of Kimberly’s designs is to support their lives. Her keen eye for detail and sensibility for design is an asset in working with the environment in which she displays her jewelry.  She spends a great deal of time working booth design and packaging of her product, as well. She wants her customers to feel as though they are shopping in a boutique, a place with special items for special people.

Kimberly Cothern participates in a number of show in Arizona throughout the year.  Her work can be found in Joseph Robertson Gallery in Prescott, Arizona, Ever seeking new adventure in materials and design has sent Kimberly into the realm of working with 24K gold; she has even alloyed her own rose gold. Kimberly continues to work and teach at Mesa Arts Center in Mesa Arizona, where the instructors are incredibly generous with their knowledge. She considers it a “place where creativity is born.”

Kimberly Cothern will be participating in the Black Canyon City’s Hidden In The Canyon Artist Studio Tour, Nov. 17, 18, and 19, 2017.  For more information, check the Black Canyon City Hidden in the Canyon Facebook page.

Contact Arts Columnist Shea Stanfield at