Tell us about yourself and your work.
I was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where I teach high school art and am currently raising two kids with my wife. I have been making art as a serious Endeavour (I have always dabbled) for around 10 years.
My work is an ever-evolving beast that in many ways has become a form of self-portraiture or, in the very least, has changed from formal studies in organic and geometric abstraction to some strange form of self-expression. I like to think of my most current body of work (which can be viewed in its entirety here) as a spewing forth of partially digested cultural influences or post-modern visual vomit.
What got you started?
My grandmother, Mary Ferris Kelly, is an amazing artist. I grew up watching her paint the most amazing impressionistic pictures filled with swirling colors and figures. I must admit that my paintings are much darker and ironic than hers, but she was, and still is, my most important inspiration. In her early years, she made some of the best geometric and Abstract-Expressionist paintings I have ever seen to this day. Those really got me going!
What keeps you in?
I enjoy being able to call myself a painter. I take part in a tradition and I am adding to the narrative. I would be lying if I said I didn’t care about receiving recognition (which is always nice) but for some reason I continue to make these strange and, for all intents and purposes, useless objects called paintings. It may be an existential thing.
In the Womb of the Desert Sun (2012)
What/who inspires you? In what way?
Inspired may be the wrong word. I am inspired by other artists, yes. But I also become secretly jealous and competitive. After I see really great art, I usually return to my studio with higher expectations for myself. The art-world is tough and nobody pays attention to mediocre, safe art.
That said, some of those artists that helped me push myself further are: David Reed (you can see some of his brushstrokes in my painting “Cross-section”), Glenn Brown, and Michael David, who is my genius-mentor in Atlanta and to whom I owe a lot.
What is art for you? Examples of "real art"?
I tend to believe that “art” can be anything at all, as long as someone (creator(s) or audience) dubs it to be art. If someone gives it the name “art” then it magically becomes that person’s personal expression of whatever he/she believes art to be. It becomes an instant symbol for that person’s (who is now an artist) aesthetic. The line between “good” art and “bad” art, however, is a little more complicated. The best examples I can think of are the cave paintings from Lascaux, France. They are raw, pure, expressions made from what was available (charcoal, berries, chalk,) about what the artists knew: survival.
Origin of the World (After Courbet) (2012)
The most powerful/your favorite medium: picture, words, sounds? Anything else?
My paintings are made on thin aluminum panels (which I like because they are light and can be projected off the wall by hidden cradles and become these floating squares and rectangles, and hopefully in the future, circles). I use acrylic and latex paints, which I manipulate in various ways (secret) and cover in multiple layers of epoxy resin (liquid glass). I then use a variety of inks to draw upon the raised epoxy. For all you theorists out there, I am deconstructing the traditional hierarchy between painting and drawing. In many ways, my paint is an “under-drawing” and my drawing is the finishing touch.
My River Runs to Thee (2012)
Plans for future (of your work)?
Anything you’d like to add? Maybe a song, a picture, hello to friends and family?
I plan on continuing to make what I think are exciting and interesting paintings, contributing to the narrative, and helping the “beast to evolve”. I am currently looking for a gallery to work with. You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow my blog at jakekelley.wordpress.com, and buy prints at saatchionline.com. Thanks!