When I’m working on a piece, I feel in fleeting moments that it’s come to life. I give them bright bows and dark memories, bringing them to reality with whispered stories. I work with my own personal narratives to develop a darkly whimsical illustration by building a new story that reinvents a past moment or a current truth. I see a beautiful darkness in childhood and nostalgia, in the way memories shift and shudder as we grow farther apart from them. Like looking at the drawings of a children’s book before reading the story, I invite others to find pieces of themselves hidden in the details of my work where childhood exists somewhere between the fairytale and nightmare. I find 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.
— Kelsey Bowen
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, going on to continue creating work as a Long-term artist in residence at the Red Lodge Clay Center in Montana. Kelsey is currently working as a professional artist and part-time educator in Western Montana.