Kelsey BowenOakland, CA


Kelsey Bowen spent her childhood in the rural California foothills, growing a strong root system of inspiration in animals and nature. She is a recent graduate of the California College of the Arts Ceramics Program, and has been accepted as an Artist in Residence at the Red Lodge Clay Center this winter in Montana.

She currently lives in Oakland, California and returns to the foothills to work in a small ceramic studio on her figurative sculptures. She has participated in various exhibitions with her work, including the California Conference for the Advancement of Ceramic Arts in Davis, the American Museum of Ceramic Arts in Los Angeles, and her BFA solo exhibition in Oakland, California.

To dwell within the naivety of childhood is to simultaneously exist within both a fairy-tale, and a nightmare. The unknown holds both fantastic magic and terrifying mystery, a place where the balance between danger and pleasure walk a blurred line that separates the tragedies and gentle memories of adolescence. This distorted child-lens through which a child’s stories and understandings are derived is a quality of surrealism that fascinates and fuels my work. My sculptures are often vessels for the echoes of small children playing; sometimes they’re the echoes of my own voice borrowed from the places they were made years ago.

My tactile relationship with clay aims towards pushing the material to pretend to be something it isn’t, creating an experience like childish make-believe that translates the clay into my surreal landscapes and stories. The chameleon blending of clay from one object to another adds a cohesiveness to the ideas of memory, making all aspects of the narrative aesthetically come from the same tangent of ideas.

When I’m working with a piece, I feel in fleeting moments that it’s alive. For me, playing with my forms and creating these moments for myself are my last lingering stitches of childhood. For a moment, the fantastical objects in my world are alive and the stories I am telling are curiously possible.