Thursday, July 9, 2009

15 minutes with Kelly Price-Colston

If you had 15 minutes with an artist you admire what would you say? What questions would you ask? This is a new feature of the Fayetteville Underground blog. I will present a short fifteen minute conversation with one of our featured Underground studio artists about their work and their life as an artist. If you have additional questions for the featured artist- just leave them in the comments.

I sat down with the prolific and talented Kelly Price-Colston outside the Vault gallery in the Fayetteville Underground, for a chat about her current exhibition, "You could have been home by now." We had a short but spirited conversation about what makes her tick, her art and her role as an artist.

Like many artists, Kelly listens to music when she creates, and she enjoys many genres. While working on her current exhibition she listened to the Yeah Yeah Yeah's, R.E.M, Fiona Apple, Tori Amos and a dash of Joni Mitchell, not to mention whatever other music that filtered through from her studio-mates' walls.

I asked Kelly if she had any expectations about her exhibition. I was surprised to find out that she doesn't. Kelly claims to have no expectations once she hangs the show; for her it is about the process of creating the work and once it is displayed, it ends for her. She is off and running and ready to move on to the next project or pieces. Kelly feels that her art is not about the crowds, the schmoozing, or money from sales. She feels that part of the art world is simply a form of pageantry.

I asked Kelly when she felt she became or claimed the title of "artist." Kelly recounted selling a piece to a documentary film director who was working for the Discovery channel several years back. He had found her work online. This was a big milestone and an important step for her. Another instance was when she was searched out by a gallery in Pittsburgh for a group exhibition with other artists that she already admired from a far. This validation was important for her and proved that people were taking an active interest in her work as an artist at home and around the country.

We then discussed her art and the stories that her work creates for the viewer. Her mixed media collage incorporates photographs, watercolor, spray paint, thread, buttons, stitching or whatever it takes to obscure and tell the story. There is the surface story of the image or photograph she uses in the piece and then the layers that are then created atop that deepen or change the meaning of the original image and a new story emerges. Kelly hopes to make a significant psychological connection with the viewer through her art. However, she finds that at times the viewer can think that the work is purely autobiographical and they may reach for connections between themselves and the artist that simply aren't there.

When I asked if there was anything that she hoped the viewer might take away from seeing her work, she mentioned her use of inexpensive, simple and recycled materials. Things that people throw away or offer at their yard sales tend to find their way into her pieces. She believes that everybody and everything can have a second life in her art; these cast away items and photographs merge together to become reborn into something new, taken out of context, obscured and embellished; thrown into a new world of her creation.

Kelly does not find any real special significance in being an artist, she simply thinks of herself as a laborer. This is her work; a job that she must do. She feels that the vibe and energy of the Fayetteville Underground enables her to fulfill this position. She enjoys the process of getting to know herself just by the act of showing up for the job.

And that is what she does; she shows up. After our talk, she was right back at work- behind a wall of music, sitting at her studio desk creating new worlds for old images again, creating new worlds for us again. Creating places to find ourselves, places to question, and places to get lost.

Don't miss this exhibition:
Kelly Price-Colston
"You could have been home by now"
Show remains up through Saturday August 1st.

Fayetteville Underground
One East Center Street
East side of the Fayetteville Square.
Fayetteville, AR
Gallery Hours W-F 12-7pm
Saturday 8-2
4 galleries: Open Studios

Sample 15 songs that Kelly listens to when she creates her work:

All images © 2009 Kelly Price-Colston

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