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I grew up in Southern California discovering my love for sculpting at an early age. Even so far as finding particular interest in both the figure and abstraction. I received my BFA at the Rhode Island School of Design in 2001 and spent the following years exploring different avenues to support myself as an artist, from jewelry design to teaching, but oddly enough, none of which truly filled me with the passion that I experience when I am sculpting.

Installation shot from Small Works 2020—Tight Rope by Kelly Robert at left
Installation shot from Small Works 2020—Tight Rope by Kelly Robert at left

Reminding myself that taking risks in the quest for happiness is always worth it, I decided to go to graduate school, choosing the New York Academy of Art because of their focus on the figure, classical training, and highly contemporary discourse. The two years of focus did all that I hoped for and after earning my MFA in 2020 I have found my happy stride, my voice, and my contribution to the contemporary art community. Primarily working in clay or marble, I have established my practice in Brooklyn, New York.

Kelly Robert's studio
Kelly Robert’s studio

I interpret moments of intense illumination and reckoning as physical gestures. I begin and grow out from the core of the human body as a source of energy that, when activated, can wind itself to generate light from darkness. It conjures the strength to honor a moment then lift through it. The modeled forms act as a landscape for the growing energy to glide across and maneuver throughout, again and again.

I pose a stance with ingredients of a hero. Exposure, armor, enlightenment, love, abandon and force. A purity of intention, illustrated through pullings and tensions. I sculpt the female form because I know her so well and I am consistently enamored by how incredibly rooted in strength she is.

Time lapse video showing part of the process in Kelly’s studio while making Tight Rope

My piece in the Small Works 2020 exhibition, called Tight Rope, specifically speaks to this moment we are all experiencing together. In the midst of the pandemic, life’s pursuits and challenges don’t stop. Individuals are called to make impossible decisions and hold true to their goals while simultaneously navigating great losses and still maintaining a supportive stronghold to those around us. Tight Rope embodies the point in time when falling to either side is not an option. She must keep her strength, must keep her balance, and she must keep her eyes forward until it is safe to step off.

Tight Rope by Kelly Robert
Tight Rope by Kelly Robert

The process I used on this piece was one that was born from the limitations imposed by the pandemic. Not having access to live models as reference, I turned to a figure posing program I learned about in a digital imaging course. What I thought was a limitation exposed itself to be a blessing. I discovered that I could challenge my poses further with the support of a consistent, unchanging model.

I am so honored that Tight Rope was chosen to be apart of Small Works 2020 at Main Street Arts. To view other works in this series, please follow my Instagram account @kell.robrt or visit my website www.kellyrobert.com

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