Ca•thar•sis by Kellie Gillespie will be on display in the Portage Mutual Gallery from July 4 to September 25.
I am both a sculptural artist and a mental health activist. I am not one more than the other, but rather understand myself as one and the same. My personal narrative is not distinctly necessary for my work's formal comprehension or individual interpretation. However, to know my story in connection to the visual work I produce proposes a more profound relationship between conversations of mental health, trauma, and recovery. Implementing materials discarded by society, my work stresses a symbolic parallel to individuals ostracized and similarly thrown away as they are labeled 'broken and unworthy' by their societal counterparts. Transcending an object beyond its material function and mundane existence, I invoke a quizzical observation of the unforeseen value of what we, as a society, consider useless. Applying these thought ideologies to the context of individuals facing mental illness, I emphasize prevalent stigmas, misinformation, and detrimental biases that still exist concerning mental health challenges. My sculptures begin as an investigation into materiality; I initiate a dialogue with the distinctive material as it shares what it can and cannot do. I work in a retrograde process, beginning with a material, exploring intense experimentation, and naturally reaching a destination of organic completion. It is traditional for my work to consist of no more than three materials, and through singular object repetition, my work reaches sizable evocative fruition. The organized chaos of repetition references compulsive temperaments, therapeutic tendencies, and emphasizes the realization of the ability for something to amount to more than the sum of its worth. My process is labor-intensive, requiring copious mental and physical endurance. The arduous undertaking behind my work equitably reflects the gravity and detriment of the topics I address. Through my strenuous repetitive process, I further instigate the conversations between art and mental health.
Kellie Gillespie is a sculptor and interdisciplinary artist practicing and exploring new concepts of sculptural installation in Los Angeles, CA. Her sculptural work focuses on issues specifically associated with mental health and the concepts of recovery and survivorship. Through the artwork she creates, Gillespie breaks the negative connotations surrounding the subject of mental illness and allows those who have suffered, or are still suffering, to reach out and finally have a chance to talk about their experiences. She received her MFA from the Rinehart School of Sculpture at the Maryland Institute College of Art in 2022 and was recently awarded the Perna Krick' 31 and Reuben Kramer '32 Fellowship. Kellie's most recent work, over/medicated/under, has received global recognition and continues to gain substantial attention as the piece is routinely published, loaned out for exhibitions, and discussed within the higher art landscape. Gillespie will also hold her first solo and first international exhibition in the upcoming summer of 2023 in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, Canada. This past year she was a guest speaker on the well-known podcast, Not as Crazy as You Think, with an episode titled Opening Up About Process and Pain. Kellie also partnered with Janssen Global during 2022's World Mental Health Day for their Art of Ending Stigma Campaign as a featured artist, spokesperson, and speaker for a live artist talk. As of 2023, Gillespie has already begun multiple partnerships with distinguished institutions and companies. The most notable being an art campaign with the sustainable healthcare company Cabinet Health and a collaboration with, and considerable commission for, GoodRX, a brand focused on affordable and convenient healthcare. Along with permanent public works residing in Northern California, Gillespie's work has been exhibited nationally. Her pieces sit in private collections in Los Angeles, Phoenix, Napa Valley, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Sonoma, and Baltimore. The San Francisco law firm Keker, Van Nest & Peters LLP recently commissioned her for a large-scale permanent sculpture, and she newly had her work join the private collections of notable, influential individuals in the Screen Actors Guild. She performed at the 2019 LA Art Show with an ensemble of artist survivors in the performance and now award-winning short film, 'Survivor! Share Your 98 Second Story.' Gillespie remains active in the greater community as she establishes a flourishing practice based on mental health advocacy.
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