Last light at the end of a long day. That is what this particular blog feels like. I have spent the day wondering just what I wanted to say here at the end. The experience of writing twice monthly for the grant about my work, my thoughts and my process has been very valuable to me as an artist. Without the requirements to write it, I would not have. But because the opportunity and framework to create in this particular way were provided by Creative Pinellas as a part of the grant, I have a written record of what this last year has been internally and externally. Like painting, it was freeing and frustrating, euphoric and exhausting, placing another tool in my tool box, like my brushes and canvas.
I slept on it, thinking I would finish it in the morning. I dreamt in the early hours. In the dream I discovered on my hand, in the flesh between my thumb and my first finger, the body of a baby raven laying just under the skin as if had just hatched there still-born. I could see it in every detail and I was completely fascinated, wondering how it had come to be there and what I should do. My husband Danny was also in the dream. I asked him to help me cut the skin so we could gently slid the bird from beneath. I took a knife and made a cut. As the tiny raven emerged, a cocoon was revealed and a blue butterfly, wings all wet perched on my hand. It began moving it wings to dry them and they became bigger and bigger. The blue was intoxicating. I suddenly said “Danny take a picture” as he fumbled for his phone he accidentally crushed the butterfly. I too, felt suddenly crushed, overwhelmed and sad, because I understood that my wanting to capture the image of the butterfly had led to its death. And I woke up.
First light and first thoughts - Art is in the Artist. All forms, simply a means to communicate. Painting allows me layers and layers with which I am able to sort through and express my feelings. I must admit, as a very private person, the experience always makes me feel vulnerable. Yet I understand that is what is most honest about the experience. I have often remarked being an artist is like standing on a table naked and asking people what they think.
Last light makes way for first light. One journey ends another begins.
The impact of Impact Returns 10.30.17
I just attended this past Thursday the Emerging Artist New Work Exhibition. It was an amazing show splendidly presented and well attended. It reminded me why we do what we do and suddenly punctuated the grant title that made this show and the grant I received, of which this blog is a required outgrowth, both possible.
Elizabeth Brincklow (Engagement Director and Exhibition Coordinator) said in the program for the exhibition: “Together within the gallery space the totality of the new works create torque, meaningful tension and unabashed beauty”
These words evoke the evening for me exactly. The performances and the installation of the visual work inspired passionate conversation that rang in the building as I entered and even before I saw the crowd, I felt the crowd. The energy and the intensity of what that space and those artists projected upon the guests attending was electrifying.
I had some very interesting conversations as I experienced the show. One of which I am still pondering. The question of how we as artists stay true to ourselves while making our vision accessible to the public. How do we connect…..How do we impact? And I kept turning Impact Returns over and over in my head. Thinking that really it is quite an ingenious title for the program. Creative Pinellas says on their website: “We called our 2017 grants program “Impact Returns” to reflect the increased number of grant opportunities for artists and arts & cultural organizations and the resulting beneficial impact for the entire arts community and the citizens of Pinellas County.”
Ok…. But my mind went to Impact as the explosion that is Art on the senses….how color or movement or sound engage us deeply, completely, surprisingly. And I think Returns speak to what it gives to the community and what it gives us as artists. Returns are what comes back when we take the chance to engage with the public, the nonprofits, the government, the people inside the process and outside of it. It is the Impact that understanding, cooperation and support create in building a livable, sustainable community. Artists make that happen.
Thank You Creative Pinellas! It’s been an honor to have been selected for this year’s grants programs. I have tried to use every moment and every dollar to engage, communicate, create, sponsor, facilitate and support my community through my art. These are the Returns and the Impact from me as a Returning Artist.
Words simply fail to communicate the profound gratitude I feel to be counted as one among this community of Artists and Makers.
Seeing Transformation - part of the spiral
Like me, do you look back on a trip or an event and feel as if it were someone else, not you, who made that journey?
Events, conversations, and places I have been, fade so quickly. I return and within hours, I wonder…”did I really go there?”
At last the show has almost arrived, it opens November 10th at Red Cloud. I have been painting since May. Fifteen new paintings and a performance of the play written about my painting White Raven Speaks is about to unfold. The time of writing through this grant draws to a close.
Until this morning, I was still at work on the last two canvases, still seeking their stories and secrets, still focused on the light and the shadows. There had been many nights spent wondering whether or not I was going to finish. Dreams waking me to return to my easel over and over. At last I could finally see the end. And then the work was done. I set down my brush and I looked around the studio. And I thought how did I get here?
I had written earlier about the first 6 paintings for this show…which I like to call the “Crazy Six”. An interesting beginning in this journey spent trying to listen to too many voices all at the same time. Yet here at this journeys end, it is these final two paintings, that seem at the heart of the show, as if the last are the first and it brings me full circle around, but from within the spiral I look up to see the beginning from a different place and while following the spiral I am able to see the place above aligned with the place below it, coming round over an again never ending simply continuing.
And I realize it is I who is someone else….
I hope you will join me for the opening of my show Friday - November 10th - 6-10PM at Red Cloud Indian Arts Gallery 214 Beach Drive. The Play White Raven Speaks at 7PM under the stars outside the gallery.
YaeL Kelley lives and works at her studio in the Artist Enclave of historic Kenwood in St. Petersburg, Florida. Petersburg, Florida.