Deirdre Hiam moved to western Massachusetts twenty years ago to pursue a career advocating for people marginalized by race, ethnicity, and socioeconomics. Influenced by her work in California with Angela Davis, she worked in pre-release centers, community health centers and prisons to help people find their voice in the healthcare system. A passion for metal smithing began with a week long adult course in Putney, Vermont three years ago. Since then she has studied jewelry-making at studios and schools across New England.
In 2017, she opened up Bench Pin Studio out of her hundred year old barn in Amherst, Massachusetts and now works full time creating with metal. Her husband, Alex Hiam, a children's book author and illustrator, works in his studio next door, and their two young daughters are always nearby to offer creative critique. Deirdre is busy producing inventory for several local stores, which carry her work.
Deirdre draws inspiration for her work from her background in African American Studies and her passion for social justice. Her jewelry is meant to challenge the standards of beauty, which often exclude more than they include. Visually and through texture, each piece of jewelry is meant to engage the wearer to discover what makes it unique and unpredictable. She uses copper, brass, bronze and silver in her work as well as found objects, semiprecious stones and ordinary objects.