Todd Steven Kelly   Artist
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Statement (a working document....)

I’m making autobiographical work using the language of art making, primarily painting, to think about how I exist in the world. Layered like a Windows desktop style scrapbook, the underlying structure of each piece consists of stretcher bars and canvas, the fundamentals of a painting, yet none of the pieces are ‘paintings’ in the strictest sense of the word. The work uses art world norms and expectations to function as art yet proudly becomes its own queer thing.

My use of paint is metaphorical: one material coming from the same tube can be thin and washy or thick and gloppy, define a hard edged grid or depict a recognizable form all while maintaining its integrity as a material.

Along with paint, I add printed pictures from my iPhone camera roll and magazines such as Architectural Digest and Artforum, a mix of very personal and fantasy images. Like the facets of life they represent, most of the images end up hovering in the background while one or two take center stage.

My used clothing is preserved in many of the pieces often under a layer of paint and occasionally featured for its pattern. There is an interesting similarity for me in the way clothing is designed to hang on the frame of the body and the way canvas is stretched over a frame to begin a painting. The decisions that go into the appearance and comfort level of the fabric we wear and what we hope to signify feel very much like the decisions  I make while painting.

Often, as a finishing touch, I will add reflective surfaces such as mirrors and colored plexiglass that invite viewers to become part of the piece while also partially obstructing the personal images on the surface of the canvas. My work is a choreographic record of my movement through bouts of wanting to reveal all and the recurring desire to avoid any notice whatsoever.

Though the work is autobiographical and the images are of me, I sense that the general story of a person tentatively navigating life as it feels on the inside versus how it is presented on the outside is a universal tale that most viewers will find very familiar.