Grotesque Self-Portrait of the Artist as the Goddess Kali

William Harper (American, born in 1944)


Overall: 10.2 x 7.6 x 2.5 cm, 111.4 gm (4 x 3 x 1 in., 0.2 lb.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Cloisonné enamel, fine silver, 24 kt gold, 14 kt gold, moonstone, opal, pearl

Not On View


Americas, Contemporary Art, Jewelry



Irregularly-shaped convex oval disk, cloisonne red, black and green enamel. Projecting rose gold protrusion terminating in a baroque pearl; disk has gold, moonstone, and opal ornaments. Enamelled back has four applied gold elements, two supporting the pin stem, and two with title of piece and signature of artist.

In the 1980s and 1990s many jewelers used their refined technical skills to create narrative and figurative jewelry. William Harper sees his work as an expression of his emotions, sexuality, and spirituality. He uses enamel to create evocative painterly effects, and by avoiding high-gloss surfaces, he allows viewers to see deeply into the translucent material, as if into his inner world. In the brooch titled Grotesque Self-Portrait of the Artist as the Goddess Kali, Harper interprets the Hindu deity Kali as a force for both creative energy (represented by the color red) and of all-consuming destruction (the color black), combined with references to both male and female Hindu sexual symbols.


" William Harper" and " Grotesque Self Portrait of the Artist as the Goddess Kali 1990" engraved on applied rear disks


Susan Cummins Gallery; Daphne Farago, May 4, 1993 Daphne Farago; to MFA, 2006, gift of Daphne Farago.

Credit Line

The Daphne Farago Collection


© William Harper