Red Lodge Clay Center Long-Term Resident 2018-19, Short-Term Resident 2017
Kelsey Bowen grew up in the rural California foothills, spending summers making up stories and picking thistles from her socks. Her figurative sculptures serve as vessels for her self-reflection and storytelling in clay; inspired by memories from her youth and interactions with her peers as an adult. While often dark in concept, her pieces build an unsettling and surreal landscape where the viewer is both comforted and disturbed; encouraging closer inspection through friendly colors and playful characters before delivering an unsettling detail. She received her BFA in Ceramics from the California College of the Arts, and worked as a Long-term artist in residence at the Red Lodge Clay Center. Kelsey is currently working as a professional artist and part-time educator in Montana.
When I’m working on a piece, I feel in fleeting moments that it’s come to life. In the gesture of a wrist or the weight of expression in an eye I see movement and emotion within the clay. I work with my own personal narratives, developing a darkly whimsical illustration by building a new story that reinvents a past moment or a current truth. There is a beautiful darkness in childhood and nostalgia, in the way memories shift and shudder as we grow farther apart from them. I invite others to find pieces of these memories hidden in the details of my work, twisting between parallels back to youth in our interactions as adults, navigating our lives affected by our pasts and our stories. These navigations inspire me to create sculptures that exist in our tangible space as vessels capable of holding the whispers of stories both shared and untold.