Sometimes you feel that dark dreadful something in your gut eating away at your insides, scratching to get out, threatening to scream…
Maybe it’s just Friday.
My latest show opened on Friday, March 4th during Winston-Salem Art District’s monthly gallery hop. Delurk Gallery became the temporary home for some of my most beloved objects.
My paintings (still life and abstracts) were combined with installations, recreating familiar moments in a grandparent’s home–like playing on a knit quilt the floor as a child, viewing vintage and antique items arranged in an heirloom glass door shelf, or the surreal scenario of self as a clown in front of a dressing table.
The items brought the viewer back to a familiar past; the paintings activated their imaginations. A group of young men stood around, intently examining each one of my paintings and discussing them, sharing what stories were conjured in their minds when they looked at my work.
A couple of women commented on my painting of a clown toy, asking if the bells on his pants were strategically placed by me–they were amused by what the placement made them think of. They thought it was playful and fun.
I was delighted by the number of people who looked and smiled, reminiscing. Many read my statement, nodding unselfconsciously, and connecting with my sentiment. People were loving my work and asking who the artist was, eager to meet me, ask questions, and share their reactions. It was overwhelmingly positive. I felt like a star!
I was highly influenced by the work of abstract expressionists such as Franz Kline, Helen Frankenthaler, Arshile Gorky, de Kooning, Robert Motherwell, and particularly Hans Hofmann. Hofmann’s no-nonsense lifestyle (He was very focused and devoted to his work and his teaching, dedicated to his wife, and not clutched in the grips of addiction and alcoholism–He was one of the lucky ones.) proves that you don’t have to be a tortured and troubled soul in order to create excellent work.
Although my work did not look directly like Hofmann’s, I was greatly influenced in the way that I allowed the energy to flow through my paintings and worked to guide it with compelling composition, my work was much darker than Hofmann’s–literally and metaphorically.
I collected books about Hofmann and spent hours admiring his work, mesmerized in front of his paintings in museums, and studying his philosophies on the making of a picture. I imagined how wonderful it would have been learning from Hofmann, studying in his Provincetown studio, being one of the attentive students watching him demonstrate technique in one of the black and white photos that immortalize him.
Very shortly after I met Jeff (my late fiancé and utter soul mate) he wanted to introduce me to one of his most cherished friends. This woman was an accomplished abstract painter and Jeff thought we’d have a lot in common. And, of course, we did. We were kindred spirits with similar painting styles and ways of existing in this world. As it turns out, she studied under a woman who studied directly under Hans Hofmann! Fate, kizmet, the universe showing you that you’re doing exactly what you were made to be doing, all that jazz…I discovered a direct line from my most admired inspiration, or it discovered me. It felt magical!
Previously I painted strictly abstract works directed by emotion and energy, my desire to touch a magical place, or to intentionally bring light into my world. Now I have a profound affinity for things–preserving them, allowing them to tell us their stories; they find their way into dramatic still life pictures. I incorporate abstract elements into my still life works at times and still paint purely abstract works at other times.
“Before returning to college, Kelly had a self taught career as an abstract painter and worked and exhibited her paintings in several downtown Greensboro settings. These paintings are powerful and energetic and about light and darkness. One of her challenges as a painter is to incorporate the energy of her abstract paintings into her still life paintings. Since her graduation with a BFA in Painting from Guilford, she has continued to paint in a similar vein to her thesis but with more humor and invention.”
–Adele Wayman, H. Curt and Patricia S. Hege Professor of Art, Emeritus
It was a great show and a fun first friday/opening event. I love Chakras!
No intention. Movement. Make a mark. Meditative but spontaneous, energetic, allowing. Step back and look. Feel. Respond. I let go and let things happen and accept and interpret later.
A flame emerges, then a figure behind it. Light requests to be present on the second canvas. The same colors start to appear in both canvases, a tiny echo of one in the other. Lots of layering and light and dark colors create depth and space. Bold brushstrokes and palette knife marks contrast with subtle detailed areas.
And I get lost in the marks I’ve made – masses of of smooth color and the interaction of the colors.
Two paintings. One darker, almost ominous, visceral. One lighter, earthier, greener.
A misappropriated menagerie of items: a puppet, a porcelain doll, a sewing box, a brass bell, an iron parrot – remnants of my childhood where dysfunction is the family heirloom. These objects are combined with abstract elements, integrating still life and abstract expression, recreating childhood scenarios.
I work on both the abstract and the representational alternately in order to help them harmonize, to create a transition between these elements that is both convincing and dysfunctional. I invent still life environments on the canvas, emphasizing light and shadow, with disjointed plains, to foster feelings of dissociation. Abstracted items convey a lack of object constancy. Are these environments real? Are people or objects consistent, trustworthy, reliable? …Questions a small child ponders while learning to navigate in the world and realize their place within it.
These works encourage you to question the validity of your own perceptions, and also to reminisce. Whimsical clowns and a coquettish kewpie doll instill a sense of childish playfulness, asserting that there is still good among the wreckage.