Conversations with an Artist: Jamie Kelty
Community connections introduced us to Jamie Kelty but it wasn't until we were following each other on Instagram that we learned about her fine art. The meaningful, whimsical and layered universe she creates in each collage or mixed media painting may also share inspiration from the city of San Francisco, her love of mid-century furniture and art history. Jamie's work features people–characters she observes and imagines–whom she has drawn in her sketchbook and cut out as part of the detailed, textural collage work she employs. Colors appear in combinations of earthy and bold, giving the paintings a visceral quality and textural depth, which is at once urban and elemental. These meticulous works transform in person and we hope to see you soon to experience the ongoing art we'll be carrying from this local artist.
Describe the moment you realized art fed your soul.
I have been drawing and making compositions since a young age. My college experience played an important part in that realization– I spent a lot of time in the studio and that was where I wanted to be. I had a few professors ask if I would be willing to do multiple jobs to feed my art making. These were important conversations and it really helped me realize that creating art was so vital to me.
What themes do you pursue in your art?
In my art I am interested in creating a visual story. The short stories are often a glimpse of humans navigating an urban setting. The found objects, photos, and assorted papers add layers of depth and texture that add a “cabinet of curiosity” effect to the work. The Inside/Out series are collages that include photos that I take along with cut outs from magazines. I enjoy blending the interior with the exterior to create an invented space to explore.
Tell us about what influences the direction for your craft.
I keep old sketchbooks, photos, and magazines on hand so that I have choices for experimenting. Every day influences my work. The people that I meet, the music that I listen to, the art that I see, signage, books, the topography and geography of the city all find their way into my work.
How has your work developed over time?
I have been exploring how to combine drawing and painting in the context of collage. I experiment with different ways to make the collage elements feel unified on the surface so they tell a compelling story.
What’s the most indispensable item in your studio?
That is a tough question. The indispensable items change as I continue to explore. Methylcellulose and matte gel medium are important to my work. Both help hold things together, preserve, and offer experimentation. Sap green and yellow ochre are two favorite colors. Scissors and pencils both act as drawing tools.
Do you collect anything?
Collecting all kinds of paper has been important for use in my artwork. I seem to have developed a collection of indoor and outdoor plants. My book shelves are full of mostly art books and my walls are full of artworks by a range of artists.
What’s the most inspiring thing you’ve seen, read, watched or listened to recently?
I find so much inspiration in nature, books, music, art, and the City. I recently found a copy (on the street) of "Shakespeare and Company Paris: A History of the Rag and Bone Shop of the Heart". It is a wonderful recollection and tribute to the bookstore and its dedication to artists, community, and free speech. Art 21 is a wonderful resource for exploring contemporary art and the artists. I enjoy visiting art museums and galleries in our community.
What advice would you give to your younger self about your artistic journey?
Wherever you go, there you are… No one can tell you that you are or are not an artist. If you are making art, you are an artist.
What role does music play for you while you work?
Music is like a companion to me while working. It keeps me company, inspires me, lifts, and grounds me.
Jamie was born in Germany and raised on a farm in Kansas. Growing up in a rural setting, she developed a strong connection to the earth and to the hand-made. A semester in New Mexico during undergraduate study, opened up the world of painting to her. In 1992, she received a BFA in painting from Fort Hays State University in Kansas. Jamie has taught art to students of all ages in schools, art centers, shelters, and museums. She has exhibited in a number of gallery shows in New York, Kansas, Missouri, Colorado, New Zealand, Berlin, San Francisco, and Mexico.
Check out the Jamie Kelty artwork collection here.