KELSEY IRVIN: Storyline Silk I-V”(available individually)
Vintage ephemera, gold leaf, oil, acrylic, and resin on panel
Contemporary collage artist Kelsey Irvin submitted cartoons to magazines as a child thinking she could be a freelance illustrator in elementary school and middle school. She says she “received very nice rejection letters” but knew she would always love and create art. Irvin still creates art and she did become a professional artist, though her routines and work patterns have changed a lot over the years. She recalls, “before kids I could easily work 13 hour days and paint until my eyes went blurry.” After the birth of her third child and accepting representation into her seventh gallery, she started a weekly practice of setting specific realistic goals, but also goals that push her a bit. Appearing like paintings at first view, Irvin’s collages are a treasure hunt of materials upon further investigation. In her process she uses everything and anything: vintage ephemera, fabric from the 1800s, leather, McCall’s dress patterns, Hollywood movie magazines from the ’50s, New York Times fashion ads from the ‘20s, matchbox covers, hand-painted signage, oil, acrylic, graphite, and sometimes resin. The ensuing works conjure memory and nostalgia. There is crossover between past, present, and future, with unifying themes of independence, adventure, the strength of women, and the innocent imagination of childhood. Irvin is inspired and challenged by the idea of creating something unique that draws people in, brings people back in time, or propels them forward. She finds these qualities in many artists past and present. A woman artist that exemplifies this for Irvin is Helen Frankenthaler, admired for her uninhibited boldness. She thinks of Frankenthaler’s masterpiece Mountains and Sea because of what it represents, both to Irvin and for female artists, she says: “Frankenthaler was inspired, set a new path, stood out among men, and the work is breathtaking.” Likewise, Kelsey Irvin finds role models in everyday life. “People that are unwavering in their particular passion, highly capable by choice, “doers” because they can’t imagine letting life go by without trying. People who are kind, thoughtful and selfless, but also driven with self-discipline. Women who aren’t afraid to pursue their dream career and motherhood at the same time.” Irvin explains that these aren’t always famous individuals, these are people she meets along the way through life, and people like her mother and grandmother.