Thursday, December 27, 2007

humble, human, humus

the result of artificial limitations is rebellion unless one is distracted, diverted, or deluded.

i do not rebel, so which am i?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

clawing for eden

clawing for eden
[suckling is continous but no longer functional series]

6' x 9' x 6'
remnant inner tubes
november 2007

Monday, November 19, 2007


...One of the best things I saw at CSAW was these huge, smelly heffalumps made from old inner tubes by Kathy Kelley. Sure, it's a little retro, like a S&M Lee Bontecou, but their enormous flab and powerful grunge are not to be denied. Kelley's worth watching.
For Whom the Bell Crawls
Houston Artletter by Bill Davenport, 11/2007
Glasstire Blog

Yeah-Hah! I was pretty thrilled to see the above on the blog. I figure I better enjoy it while I can, cause I could always get spanked next time. I found it perceptive that Davenport so quickly and concisely summed up what I am doing well and what I am struggling with all from a positive slant. I am definitely struggling with the retro post-minimalist thing. That mode of working is less a nod to post-minimalism (though my hat is definitely off to Eva Hesse, Lee Bontecou, Louise Bourgeois as well as Donald Judd, Richard Serra, Robert Morris) and more of an innate way of making (a visceral gnawing) and material choice. So I am trying to explore ways of entering into 2007 (just haven't found it yet) via my making/materials.

Thanks Bill.

*if you're not sure what heffalumps are, reread winnie the pooh.

And then I got spanked.

In regards to titus o'brien's comments
LIKE Lee Bontecou?
written by titus_obrien on November 20, 2007

I saw Bontecou's retrospective (a few times) a couple years back, and have long been a fan. Kelley's sculptures go beyond owing debt, to pure imitation.
"pure imitation" is pure conjecture based on obrien's view point. Unless, he's been crawling around in my head or observed the process from which the work was derived, then he can neither comment on the intent or act from which the work was derived. However he may surely speak to similarities, differences or make judgments of the work itself.

i do not discredit him for taking a stand. any good writer or critic must make a stand if he wants someone to listen. i simply stand against the statement that my work is imitation.

i am definitely influenced by art history, but i am influenced even more so by my materials in conjunction with my current thinking, with the addition of book research and collaborative critique with fellow artists. this series of works sprung out of the idea of continuous consumption...the stunting of growth via unending wanting....the never ending suckling of consumer goods without fulfillment...some of melanie klein's object relations theory on personality development, envy and gratitude or lack thereof, her referencing of the experience of breast feeding being determinant in much about who a person becomes, along with the remnant inner tubes that already screamed radial and a semi-recent (feminine?) inclination to sew all led up to suckling is continuous but no longer functional series of explorations. half way through sewing nipples for the first black painting, references to lee bontecou became quite evident. from there i began to push away from the inadvertent references to bontecou and started relying on the materials themselves to guide me in the making.


Sunday, November 11, 2007

ArtCrawl Houston this Saturday

ArtCrawl Houston
Saturday, Nov. 17
2 - 9 pm

Studio open house at most the downtown art warehouses. Come see reasonable and unreasonable art. There will be a free metro bus to shuttle people about. Free parking. Yes you can bring your kids. Unfortunately the old warehouses are not handicap friendly (sorry).

Stop by and see me.
Commerce Street Art Warehouse
Studio F2 (also J...but since I can only be in one studio at a time, come find me in F2)
2315 Commerce Street
Houston, TX 77002
713.299.8582 map

Saturday, November 10, 2007

when artists become sheep

when artists become sheep.
[suckling is continuous series]
6' x 9' x 3'
tubes, baling wire on frame, cinder blocks
november 2007

when artists become sheep (detail)

Friday, November 09, 2007

what is it that i have, that i was not given

what is it that i have, that i was not given
[suckling is continuous series]
tubes, baling wire, wood frame
6' x 9' x 2' framed area
various stacked tubes
october 2007

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Wish and will depart

Wish and will depart,
urge and impulse infiltrate—
my being or lack there of.
[suckling is continuous series].

inner tubes, baling wire.
6' x 9' x 2'


Monday, October 01, 2007

How does one distinguish between vision and delusion?

inside feeding outside
outside feeding inside
i neither stop nor start at the skin
that i am rational
that i am autonomous
suckling is continuous

How does one distinguish between vision and delusion?
[suckling is continuous series].
blownout tire sidewalls, inner tubes, baling wire.
size varies.

what is it that i have, that i was not given

Wish and will depart
Urge and impulse infiltrate
My being or lack there of
Suckling is continuous.

what is it that i have, that i was not given
[Suckling is continuous. series] 10/2007.
6' x 8'. inner tubes, baling wire.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Incessant wanting.

In the space of absence.

Intimacy. Fear. Proximity. Disturbing nearness. Loss of shallow distance. Contamination. Enclosure. Enclusion. Exclusion. Exception. Endless waiting. Out of place. Out of time. Out of tune. Profound unsettling. Mode of eradication. Intolerance. Non-recognition. Residue. Degeneration of public space. Incessant wanting. Defense mechanism of self enclosure. Numbness.

...The 'state of emergency' in which we live is not the exception but the rule
(Walter Benjamin, 1940).

I hide my own culpability in consumer whoring. Yet my collecting, harvesting, and acquiring has been redirected to objects of decay found along the street side. I am drawn to the symbolic and formal elements of decay, the way in which an object has been altered by its mere existence. The worn, broken, torn nature of the aged object seems to make it more real, more honest. So I collect decayed urban refuse. I hold onto it for awhile. Cogitate. Eventually the formal and symbolic elements of the materials and my current research meld. Then I make. The making is a visceral reaction against the cult of the instant, the new, the forever young, forever fertile with its pushed up breast and swollen lips, a reaction against perpetual numbness and defense mechanisms of self enclosure. Cognitively, emotionally, I am a full participant in our capital culture. But I find myself making, assembling, revaluing objects of refuse, moving from spectation toward production, not mechanized but sensualized by the hand, by my hand. Mind and body working in rebellion, in synch; the nonsense and sense merge as coherent objects. The sculptural constructs become a stand in for the shadow self, an empty self.

Monday, May 21, 2007


if i give up consumer whoring,
stand atop maslow’s hierarchy
wiping the pavlovian drool from my lips
what remains


I find my voice only to discover everyone is talking, no one is listening.
40" x 16". Found tire remnants, tire tube pads. 2007.

Dead surface :: A review of End Game (2004) by Damien Hirst

If Robert Rauschenberg’s current cardboard exhibition at the Menil is fleshy (carnal) and intuitive, then Damien Hirst’s End Game at the MFAH is barren (dead) and calculated. Hirst’s piece of death is a cold medical display cabinet of glass and stainless steel (~6’ x 12’) housing on its glass shelves row after row of stainless steel tools created for the purpose of poking, prodding, and cutting human tissue. Along side of these tools and my shattered image that plays across their surfaces are the prepackaged consumable products of sampling, collecting, and cleaning. Every item is new, unused and commercially fabricated with the exception of the two dangling remnants of tool-making, language-oriented, bipedal primates, homo sapien sapiens. All soft tissue is absent, only the bones remain. These two sets of bolted together bones are suspended back to back, one large, one small—male, female(?). They call to mind how one mate will quickly follow the other into the shadow of death. The smaller of the two, the female, is marked with the anatomical muscle and tendon insertion and origin points, information required for the neat dismemberment of remains for the purpose of study and/or disposal. In spite of all the iconic meaning culturally embedded in these remnants, the skeletons are subservient to the awesome undulating forms of the medical instruments with their horrific functions. The instruments are simple machines. They require the application of a mechanical force to operate; this force is the human hand, the hand of the living—the living dissecting the dead. Hirst’s choice to encase tools of dismemberment and the human remains are a cold reminder of one’s own mortality.

The strong conceptual basis of End Game is enhanced by the material seduction that becomes perverse as I, the viewer, become the voyeur of my own death. The materiality and presentation is in the same vein as Jeff Koons’ vacuum pieces with their enshrined, mass produced ready mades. Both create spectacle, but unlike Koons, Hirst’s piece isn’t about the commodity fetish of stuff but instead about the commodity of life and its ensuing demise.

As I stood there and plundering the remaining dregs of my analysis, scrawling dedicatedly into my notebook, two gray haired couples (~75 years old) entered the space. Immediately one of the husbands laughingly and loudly exclaimed to the group, “Yup! We’ll be there soon enough.” Only after this did they step forward to consider the contents of the cabinet and the title. Hirst’s titles are important to his work, but in this case it only served the couples and myself as a brutal exclamation point. Death encroaches!

I turned to leave and to my further dismay (as illusive hopes of penned originality dissipated) what I have encoded in my notebook has already been decoded on the wall. Damn. As I read the plasticized text there, I wondered if you sent me here (Oh yes, I am that egocentric.) to see one artists journey into the questions of what it means to be human and his direct manner of articulating his observations visually and via language. Hum, a worthy artist to study.

Kathryn Kelley. 2007.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

FLESHY SURFACE :: a review of Robert Rauschenberg: Cardboards and Related Pieces at the Menil

Reference, meaning, order and authority are disconnected in Robert Rauschenberg’s Volon (1971, cardboard) or what I call LAY FLAT. DO NOT STAND ON END. The primary element of the work is its deconstruction. It is in this that Rauschenberg dissolves the three pale blue boxes, pressed flat and horizontally aligned on the wall, into a shallow, fleshy, sensual surface of repetition and altered meaning.

Repetition and difference, difference without opposition. Like Donald Judd, Rauschenberg explores the cube (rectangle) via the serial usage of industrially fabricated boxes mounted on the wall. They interact with the immediate space, incorporating the light and shadow. The artist’s unique gesture/mark of originality and authority is diluted by the fabrication process (Judd) or in this case the defabrication of the prefabricated (Rauschenberg). Rauschenberg deconstructs the box by cutting the tape, releasing the staples in the same manner you or I would; the gesture is not unique or original. In opposition to Judd’s work is the choice of cardboard over steel, cardboard over plywood or plexi. Judd’s materials are all permanent, ridged and cool to the eye and hand; Rauschenberg’s are temporal, pliable and warm. Furthermore, the placement of the boxes along a fixed grid is disrupted by the final box being placed along alternate coordinates of the y and z planes. This disruption not explored by Judd, further warms the work. Neutrality through repetition and difference is denied; instead the materiality of the objects is humanized, made fleshy.

The deconstruction of the boxes is much more in line with the organic nature of Eva Hesse’s work. Rauschenberg’s movement of deconstruction, his action of working the materials is laid bare for the viewer in the remnant tacked to the wall. As with Hesse, it appears as an intuitive interaction with materials and exploration without priori. Rauschenberg strips the boxes of endowed functionality and makes it apparent that signification is an attribute not of the boxes themselves but of the human activity of their making. What remains on the wall is simply an indexical trace of Rauschenberg’s actions. In this, the boxes become more full than empty.

The boxes’ culturally agreed upon functionality lies in their ability to contain, carry, and to be disgorged of content. Their meaning and value is dependent on content and cultural context. But this functionality of the box has been discarded and dissolves through the process of material deconstruction. Rauschenberg has ascribed his boxes with new value and meaning dependent on the context and language of the gallery viewer. As the boxes lose their premanufactured significance, the language preexisting upon their surface disassociates from the boxes identity as box. It is a refusal to be what mass culture has dictated. Meaning becomes contextual allowing the boxless box to become other. It has been made fleshy. It has been made man. For many it will be difficult to see beyond the box as box and to let it be other. Yet Rauschenberg has clearly made it other. Through the recontextuallization of the boxes the text printed on the surfaces of the boxless boxes take on human connotations. LAY FLAT. DO NOT STAND ON END. Which of course is exactly what I am NOT doing as the viewer. 1.) I am standing, not laying flat. 2.) I am vertical, on my end, not horizontal and evenly distributed. Rauschenberg has followed the texts’ command with his objects, his boxes, and yet I stand stuck in a position of opposition. He plays with me? Teases me? The piece is critically dependent on this play of deconstructed language that forces me, the viewer, to interact with the work.

Reference, meaning, order and authority are disconnected in Rauschenberg’s work by the deconstruction of concurrent art movements, materials, functionality and language. He has made me want to press my cheek tightly to the boxes’ surface, feel their fleshy nature. He has helped me disengage that which is signified by the box and alter its meaning. He has challenged me to lay flat to view his work, but my culpability to the artificial constructs of museum behavior inhibits me. Most importantly, though, he has made me laugh at art and my interaction or lack there of with it.

Kathryn Kelley. 2007.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

in the space of absence (in process)

industrial foam found in broken bales off of commerce street. found useless tire tubes. each pod/womb piece is 8 to 9' in height and range from 8 to 18 inches in diameter


Friday, March 02, 2007

Never blog when tired.

Mode of exception, the norm.
State of emergency, the norm.
Presences of artificially generated fear, the norm.
In perpetual transit, I am endlessly waiting.


Reacting against our spectator culture, I move away from spectation toward production, not mechanized but sensualized by the hand, by my hand. Mind and body work in synch in a non-knowing knowing. Meaning emerges from labor. Consciousness swims out of the interweaving of mind and body. Visceral making—visceral knowing. It is my rebellion.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Into the space of absence

Process shot (meaning I am not finished yet.)
TITLE In a culture imbued with a perpetual ambient pornography, where sex is everywhere except in sex, hunger everywhere except in hunger, having everywhere except in having, experience everywhere except in experience, I am left with an incessant wanting that has lost both its subject and object. This self substrate of wanting bares witness to an undifferentiated loss, an absence. Into this space of absence, I fall.
Found foam, truck tire tubes and baling wire. 9' x 1' x 1'.


Sunday, February 11, 2007

Against my better judgment, I open myself.


I trust the process—research, collective critical analysis, emergent forms from visceral object making, alternate views that manifest themselves via found objects, questioning my assumptions about the nature of things, and daily writing. But most importantly I have found that if I force myself to remain open, open to alternate views, open to outside direction, I learn. To learn requires me to make mistakes, to be wrong. By allowing for failure, attempting to not avoid that which hurts, I am able to explore new things in that illusive space were sense and nonsense become interchangeable. This type of experimentation surprisingly often produces something quite coherent. Openness also allows me to recognize the herd (the mechanical human drone state which avoids painful mental, physical, and social conflict resulting in a deadening of the potentiality for change) and to navigate to its outer edges. I cannot avoid the herd (I am the herd); I cannot avoid culture (I am my culture). But on the skirts of the herd, my movement and exploration is less hampered by cultural dictates; more options are available to me; my assumptions become more transparent. I cannot fight the system. But I can learn to spread my proverbial wings and glide within the existing currents; flicking my wrists to alter my path. Openness, even when everything within me screams “NO!” improves me. Without it, I would remain the same. And what a boring life that would be.


“Impossible to have found so little a thing, in so great a clutter of thick, and deep grass.” Nathaniel Fairfax, 1674.

Research is an untangling of a cluttered, clotted mass of coagulated knowledge. I have so many questions about culture, the self and the nature of existence that research is obligatory. The more I research, the more I know; the more I know, the more I recognize that we do NOT know. Supposition is great; the factual is minimal. That we are missing the obvious seems apparent and it weighs on me. So I dredge the archives of theory on human development, object relations, social constructionism, cultural materialism, and my faith.

This research becomes critical to my making. The work is a vehicle for my ideas, my understanding or lack there of. I hunger for research (consumption) and art making (production). One without the other would make the remainder useless and of no value to me. I require them to be conjoined, equal in value when paired, worthless when separated.

I like to believe my work begins with this research, but this is not the case. There is significant play in idea/image/object development between the research, the collective critical analysis, visceral making, the found object, and writing. Each piece of work is an amalgamation of these processes. Research is critical and I thrive in its flow.


The collective provides an external motivator for following through on my interests, research, and form making. Furthermore it forces me to take the idea, the one that usually sits just out of reach, and stand up, snatch it, and force it into the box of language. The group enables me push and pull on it until I am able to knock off the rough edges and create something coherent. They also reveal to me when I have pushed the idea to far into the realm of nonsense (bullshit), or when I need to eject the idea totally because it is simply wrong. Often they suggest an entirely new tangent that I had not considered. I especially enjoy a group that mixes together what appears to be opposites, left and right, straight and gay, Christian and agnostic, Shiner Bock drinkers and Diet Coke drinkers, and east and west. A diverse group quickly reveals the fallacies I hold, but it also exposes the currents of commonality.


Water and oil do not mix, therefore plaster (that forms through a chemical reaction with water) and tar (an oil based product) should not mix. A positive times a positive is positive. A negative times a negative is positive. A positive times a negative is negative. Why? How is this like tar and plaster? How is this like my internal nature of goodness and shadow? So I set out to mix the tar and plaster. I built a simple mold, a cube, to test my questions. The tar and plaster mixed but didn’t mix. Wrestling within the cube, within the light and shadows, an emergent beauty, an odd sense of wholeness and redemption surfaced. I built a better mold into which I could pour 18 cubes at a time. More was better. I explored the relationship of the cube to the self—the open self and the closed self; the compartmentalized, fragmented self and the whole self; the empty self and the saturated self.


I collect things from the road side, both the incidental by-products of urban dwelling, such as shredded tire treads along the highway, and intentional discards left out for big trash pick up. Why do I do this? What is it about certain objects that draws me to collect them?


I am drawn to both the symbolic and formal elements of decay, the way in which an object has been altered by its mere existence. The worn, broken, torn nature of the aged object seems to make it more real, more honest. Decay’s reference to ensuing death serves only to bare witness to life and decay becomes terribly rich, with a fullness of character. So I collect these decayed objects. I hold onto them for awhile. Cogitate. Eventually the formal and symbolic elements of the objects and my current research meld. Then I make.


I trust the process, I definitely trust my body knowledge, the way in which it reacts and works certain materials. Tar. I work it directly with my hands. I empty myself—forging a direct and raw connection with it.

But, why tar? It is industrial; we are industrial. It is everywhere in our urban environment of which I am a part—streets, roofs, parking lots, exercise trails, plastics, etc. It is carbon based; I am carbon based. It is decay (fossil fuel); I am decay. It off gases...well you get the point. It is nasty, dirty, and gets everywhere, sticks and won’t release. These characteristics of tar appeal to my sense of our own dark nature—all the wanting and taking, the unrestricted selfishness. Besides, for a moment, I terribly enjoy being disgustingly dirty. Tar is my rebellion against the slick and fake in myself and our culture. We try so hard to be beautiful, smart, strong, and likeable, yet we can be ugly, weak, stupid and repelling. We don’t seem to have a whole lot of control over these things. As with tar, I have some control but not much. It is ugly, messy, and unpredictable but can be worked into something beautiful, sumptuous, and sophisticated.

Sometimes I make just to work the material and do not consider the symbolism or end product until later. For instance with The Shadowland series, I just needed to hammer twenty seven pounds of nails. It was about process, about visceral making. The black nail painting was the first of my artwork to be accepted by the art community and my design professors.

Initially, I had to consider scale. How large could I work and still manage to move it or hang it? So the piece became self referential, about two feet by six feet. I cut my first frame and stretched my first canvas (plywood on two by fours). Then I began. I smeared a little cold roofing tar in one corner and pounded nails into it. Pain is a quick teacher and I found that it would be difficult to use varying size nails. I discarded the found nails I had collected and went to Home Depot. I settle on one size and continued my pounding. Latex gloves (nitrile are too thin; they rip to easily) became a must have item. Baby oil, a gentle alternative to chemical solvents, for removing tar (and oil paint) from the hands, face, arms, and tools (plus it functions great as a mold release agent) was also required. Back to pounding. Tar. Nail. Tar. Nail. Tar. Nail. Hang from fence; pop back; straighten up carefully. Tar. Nail. Tar. Nail. Tar. Nail. Tar. Nail. Tar. Nail. Tar. Nail. Tar and nails for ten days straight, four to six hours a day, my physical limit. Hang from fence; pop back; straighten up carefully. Lather up with baby oil and detar self. At this point, I discarded my watch and to this day have not gone back to it—very un-American. I have learned to trust my natural pace versus the artificial units defined by the cultural mechanism of time.

Robert Rauschenberg’s black and white paintings, his combines embedded with everyday objects, and the Menil’s primitive collection brought out my own inclinations for the study of darkness and light, goodness and evil. Being egocentrical, I primarily considered how my own goodness gets lost in my shadow. This led to a more formal study of the self—theories of human development and social constructionism. These self considerations and research guided my work.

The size of my hands and the rhythm of hammering created repetitive patterns. I had to force myself to resist this patterning behavior, resist sameness, resist what my body so easily wanted to do. There was a working tension back and forth between my visceral body movement and my mind’s need to control the process and outcome. I slipped back and forth between these two parts of my self. My emotional response to what was visually emerging shaped this complex interaction of information processing and production.

This working between mind and body became a form of focused play. As with children during play, a set of rules (arbitrary?) was defined, “don’t make patterns with the nails.” Play became about following, testing, and manipulating the rules. PLAY. The body, the mind in rebellion, in synch; the nonsense and sense merged as a coherent object.

A coherent object, an art object, became a variable in which to store meaning, much like the self.
How can tar and twenty-seven pounds of nails be art? How can tire scrapes hobbled together be art? How can fifty year old twine and discarded metal shavings embedded in tar be art? How can these fit together to be art? NONSENSE! Yet because the work functions in a way that calls the viewer to overlay his/her own personal meaning onto the work, sense emerges. Why? Carl Jung would argue that the art object is a manifestation of cultural dysfunction, that the art is symptomatic of the collective’s turmoil with self, culture and the world. The art making becomes a lightning rod—it attracts desire for order which is disrupted by disorder, disorder creates tension, tension leads to making. And others within culture recognize an element of truth in the work, therefore sense a connection and derive meaning.

“ is awakened whenever the times are out of joint and a human society is committed to a serious error...When conscious life is characterized by one-sidedness and by a false attitude, then they are activated—one might say, “instinctively”—and come to light in the dreams of individuals and the visions of artists and seers, thus restoring the psychic equilibrium of the epoch.” Carl Gustav Jung

Am I a product of my culture with my discomforts in cultural praxis and the self being played out in my art making?

A step that brings me to a stop


Surrender infers war. Am I at war? War with whom? Myself? God? Other? Surrender to whom? Surrender what?

This also infers that I NEED to surrender? Why? Why? Why?

How do I know when to surrender and when to fight? Who gets to decide?

This is so unAmerican. And I am so very much doubt. I hate the idea of surrender. I am not saying your wrong in that I may need to do this, but the thought of surrender is well so very un-pullyourselfupbythebootstraps! And I am still pulling!

However, I do compromise (does that count?). Is surrender like submissive? Shoot! I suck at that too!

The idea of surrender sends me into serious rebellion! Based on that apparently I am at war. Dang.

I dissect the self only to discover it is but a mere flesh wound!

My design, sculpture and writing skim the surface of the construct of the self. There is an illusion that the self is an autonomous and masterful entity. Yet the self seems to function as a variable, a storage container for the dictates of society where the current cultural matrix defines what it means to be human—our limits, talents, expectations, and prohibitions. It tells us who we are and how we relate to the world. Emotions and identity are cooped as microregulators of culture. Want is appropriated as need. Consumer stimulation, pacification, and diversion are used to reinforce and reproduce the loci of cultural powers. If culture moves us toward unrestricted selfishness, we embrace our narcissism and revel in it. There is a struggle between the illusive independent self and the self’s dependence on culture. The self is incomplete, empty; culture completes.

Is this so? Are we social constructs? Why do I experience tension when I go along? Or when I resist? Can I enact change on the self or culture? Or am I impotent as a factor in change? Is it possible to step outside of the current consumer paradigm?

Who is in charge anyway?

How is change defined? Does it refer to a fundamental difference in a state of being or can change be just behavioral/superficial, as in managing ones funk versus no longer having the funk.

Are we purely complex systems of stimuli/response? What makes us uniquely human? What takes us beyond just being an object under the influence? What do we experience that is not based on our senses/stimuli/response?

How much risk is involved in thinking differently, behaving differently? Being different? What is the association/link between risk and energy? How might energy be stockpiled to use in risk taking in order to instigate change?

What is the role of solitude and group in change and change maintenance? Aren’t both required? Is the balance unique to each individual?
Is change possible?

I dissect the self only to discover it is but a mere flesh wound!

Friday, January 19, 2007

Modes of conformity

Solo exhibition
Bunker Hill City Hall
11977 Memorial Drive
M-F 8am-4:30pm
January Through March 29

modes of conformity: i make, i remake, i unmake and with the accumulation of the remainder i displace my own culpability in the hunting and gathering of capital culture
sticks, wood, rope, resin.
~4.25'x4.25' each cube (~5' long x 3' height)
kathryn kelley. 2007

Review by Andrea Sutton of the Memorial Examiner

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Folds and Stacked: An exercise in restraint

CSAW exhibition opening
January 13-February 1, 2007
Commerce Street Artists Warehouse
2315 Commerce Street, Houston, 77002

Tenant gallery:
Stacked and Folds: an exercise in restraint
with Kathryn Kelley

The constructs reference the body, the female form—the contrived fashion in which I attempt to coerce my own behavior to harness my nature and by shear will alter my being. I continue to create artificial constructs in this futile attempt to be other, to be self—I sacrifice the real, the intimate, and the honest, for the illusion of otherness. I am other. In this I lose my being, become embedded in the herd—to the cliff, to the cliff, I run. Within this tightly packed unit, I am one. I am none. Nostrils flare with the stench of sameness. I am the same. The spectacle becomes the spectator. The spectator becomes the speck. It drifts along the surface and is nothing. It repeats its self. I repeat myself.

Eventually I stop.

Collecting, harvesting, acquiring the decayed, the discarded, both industrial and natural, from the street side, I find myself viscerally reacting against the cult of the instant, the cult of new, the cult of forever young, forever fertile with pushed up breasts and swollen lips. Cognitively, emotionally, I am in full participation—loving the hunt, loving the gathering—mine, mine, mine. I am the lover of stuff. But as artist, what does it mean to not manipulate my materials making them mine? If the artist’s hand is only in the harvesting and storing, am I artist? So I collect the urban refuse and force myself to release the mine, mine, mine, mindset. I let the materials BE. And when I let them be, I find innate emergent impressions referencing the female form.

I am female. How do I release the frenetic agitated female images mediated by culture? What does it mean to be female? Is my power really only in the swell of my breast and the heat of my thighs? I am no longer sure of what it means to be female. What is femininity? I look to my aging female friends—Cynthia, Margo, Susan, and even Pam and Lori. In their decay, their pain and love, I learn what it is to be female. Their faces are etched with life lived. They have not run from the processes of living. They are not plastic. They attempt to live honestly and value others. They are female. They are human. They are beautiful.

It is in the depths when I wade out from the shallows that I find life and my being.

In the decayed, I find beauty, in the released, honesty.