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Over 75,000 years ago, Africans are noted to have been the first to construct jewelry worn by humans. Archaeological discoveries of snail shells used as beads in South Africa, 40,000-year-old beads made of ostrich eggs in East Africa, symbolic adornment of ancient Egyptian culture, and bead jewelry in Libya, represented various levels of stature and provided visual indicators of connection. These origins carry fluent links in the artistry of today’s makers.

Janis Murray, chief visionary and creator of TruVintage66 is one such culture keeper. A Seattle native, Janis established her jewelry and accessory line in 2009. Her creative journey began at the young age of seven while working in the yard with her grandfather Archie Smith, and finding a connection to nature and beauty. Guided by an elder Emily Macartney, Janis was introduced to charcoal drawing, oil, and acrylic painting and learned the value of colors, balance, shadowing, layering, texturing, shapes, and the virtue of patience. Janis also explored cosmetology, and began to evolve her interest in natural, holistic, and integrative health approaches and became certified in various health modalities. Throughout her journey, Janis realized, “one thing for certain, art is in all things.”

While living in Washington, DC, Janis made her first necklace. Her journey led her to Arizona where she was able to further explore her curiosity and love for history, nature, fashion, and Indigenous and ethnic cultures. Her work is reflective of the cultural mosaic she first appreciated while living in Seattle, and further explored through her travels. “Vintage, Indigenous, classic cool with a modern vibe,” are the words Janis uses to describe her jewelry. Using locally and globally sourced materials, TruVintage66 items are one-of-a-kind wearable objects of art that carry power, energy, and transcendent beauty. Through intentional design, Janis succeeds at creating adornment that is fluid for all genders, and conveys a certain superhero wow factor!

African beaded style necklace
Necklace from Janis' collection

Like the Dora Milaje of Black Panther, and the Agojie of The Woman King, the jewelry created by Janis Murray is an expression of her embrace of the superhero mantra – “Be strong when you’re weak, be brave when you’re scared, be humble when you’re victorious, be badazz every day, especially when you are wearing TruVintage66!”

It was her aunt Geraldine Smith who first introduced Janis’ jewelry to ARTE NOIR, months before our opening. We were immediately enthralled with her careful selection of beads, stones, and symbols used to construct these dynamic pieces. And we were thrilled that she accepted our invitation to place her items in our store. We’ve captured Janis speaking about her process and the materials used in creating her pieces in the video below. The next time you are in ARTE NOIR, be sure to take a look at a few choice items!


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