Friday, March 27, 2009

Artist Profile: Kelly Shaw Willman

I always feel very fortunate to have artists among my circle of friends. They never cease to inspire, to make me think, and to leave me in awe with their powerful work and new ways of looking at the world around them. I am blessed to call performance artist and poet Kelly Shaw Willman a friend, and to be able to share her brilliant work on Black Butterfly.
A native of Cosgrove, Iowa, Kelly explores concepts of "birth, rebirth, birthing, un-birthing, the body, the sacred, the intimate, the divine, the dreamy, the imaginative, the symbolism, the stance, and the beauty of artistic vision and exploration."

The body is very much a part of Willman's experimental pieces, and her physical being is very much a part of the performance. In her most recent performance at an intimate space in Brooklyn's Bushwick neighborhood, she bathed herself in fake blood and glitter (glitter is a signature material found in much of Kelly's work), eliciting comparisons to the late artist Ana Mendieta, whose works often involved Mendieta covering herself in blood, earth, or flowers. The environments Kelly creates to perform in unabashedly embrace the feminine. Candles are lit, rose petals are distributed, and there is also the ever-present glitter. "I work most naturally from an intuituve space, where a distant but accessible idea fuels intensive writing, intensive rehearsing, and an intensive construction of a performance environment." Accessible is a perfect way to describe Willman's performance space. There isn' t a traditional stage, and there's something about the environment she assembles (is it the colors? the warm glow of flickering candles?) that is very inviting to the viewer. Willman draws her audience ever closer, and deeper into an intriuging mystery of one woman's dream-filled journey.Kelly's latest performance, part one in an eleven movement series entitled grunge*quest, will continue throughout the spring and summer, with other artists and musicians collaborating for the various movements. For more info. on Kelly Shaw Willman and her work, check out her page on flickr:
Also, watch this space for an interview with Kelly in the near future!

And here's a video of her performance, *regard*

performance photos by Janna O'Shea

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