Kathryn Kelley Works Through Her Monsters at Art League Houston
"The barren plains of back turned could have been [monsters in the attic]" by Kathryn Kelley
There's a lot going on in Kathryn Kelley's installation at Art League Houston. For starter's, there's the title -- "The uncontrollable nature of grief and forgiveness (or lack of)" -- which is accompanied by several stanzas of a poem on the gallery wall.
Beyond text, in her exploration of grief and forgiveness, Kelley primarily employs materials that seem to be pulled straight from a junkyard. Pieces of wood have random hinges and spools of rubber have even tracked in leaves. The rubber takes on various forms throughout the space, most prominently as three rubbery specters that cascade from the ceiling, with teal picture frames jutting out at odd angles. Attesting to their haunting quality, Kelley calls these "monsters in the attic."
Floating planks of wood also play a starring role, suspended from the middle of the ceiling in a slight spiral shape like a bridge to nowhere. They look like thin fragments of doors, with doorknobs still attached. Other planks of reclaimed wood are used to create an impractical, wildly out-of-proportion chair. It even leans against the wall, discarded for its impracticality.
A corner of the space is devoted to neat stacks of those teal picture frames and tubes of rubber. It looks like a version of the artist's workshop; her supplies are lined up for the taking. There's even a tool belt hanging from the wall, ready for work.
As it relates to grief, there is a heaviness felt in the space, most prevalently in the dank, dark rubber that reaches up to the ceiling. There is a weightiness to these thick, black forms. As for forgiveness, I haven't quite pieced that together yet, save for the notion that forgiveness often may follow grief (or, as the show's title implies, not). It's a difficult show to wrap your head around, from the poetic ramblings on the wall to the unusual materials, and it's not helped by the awkward, cluttered layout of the installation. And for all that there is in the relatively small space, there's also an unfinished quality to it. This might even be intentional. As is the uncontrollable nature of grief, there's always more material to work with.
"Kathryn Kelley: The uncontrollable nature of grief and forgiveness (or lack of)" at Art League Houston, 1953 Montrose Boulevard, runs now through March 8. For more information, call 713.523.9530 or visit www.artleaguehouston.org.
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