Sometimes, the image is floral. The softness of the petals to the thin, green stem extending from the base of the canvas is unmistakable. But other times, the image deviates, pulling you into a microcosmic world where growth and struggle are inseparable forces—two realities of cellular life intertwined in a single image. Every piece in the show pushes and pulses at the boundaries of abstraction. The paintings are living, physical things with unique attributes, like bodies. This is where Kelly Porter draws you in, and it is always where she shines: in the fuzzy space between the beautiful and the strange. It is why viewers return to her captivating paintings and see something new every time.
Kelly Porter infuses her personal history into every stroke. “I deal with emotion a lot in the process. Painting in this way allows me to communicate deeply, but wordlessly.” The medium is not merely applied to the canvas. It is grown, developed for the specific environment of the complete image. When the molecular butts up against the observable, the distinguishing line between micro and macro disappears. If we think of the image as a body—as Porter often does—every shape is a vital moving piece of the whole. Conflict enters the paintings when the body must bear the responsibility of each moving part, even if that component is a parasite.
Witness the conflict, the celebrations, and intimate connections embedded in Porter’s rich swaths of color. “I add very loud color to otherwise subtle environments, and I like to throw in sharp, dynamic colors to an agreeable palette. Other times I set out to create what I feel is truly beautiful.” Each bouquet reflects the artist’s patient hand, a hand that has spent many working hours on the bare essentials of composition and design. “At Porter Teleo, my textile company, I am plotting out massive scales of repeated patterns and color stories. When I am not creating or painting product, I am designing new wallcovering or fabric patterns,” she says of her practice. But the paintings in the Atomic Flowers and Sound Stories exhibition are made to get lost in. Dense application of rich, satisfying colors envelop the senses, as if certain hues could evoke a taste. Buttermilk yellows, pomegranate reds, and daiquiri greens add familiar sensory details to the abstract designs. “The color can feel soft and private, sensuous and biological. Or it can be contrasting and bold – full of energy and life. All of it together—the lines, forms, color—creates work that can be felt, that can be experienced.” Sounds and flavors find their way into visual expression, and Porter never sends them back.
Although busy and active, bodily and floral, the images breathe quiet space into the viewer. Porter is an artist who spends every moment deep in the folds of creative thinking, and larger philosophical questions are woven into Porter’s studio practice. “I love thinking about science, faith, reason, and humanism. I also work in feelings of pain, loss, beauty, and joy. In the end, the work is a reflection of all these things.” The sublime, the soul, and the division between microscopic and observable are all present in this collection of works. Blue Gallery has championed Porter’s work for almost two decades and is excited to dedicate the space to her remarkable vision in Atomic Flowers and Sound Stories.
Kelly Porter is from Dallas, TX. She received her BFA from Kansas City Art Institute, Kansas City, MO in 1997, where she studied printmaking and philosophy. Upon receiving a full scholarship, she continued her education at the State University of New York in Buffalo, NY, where she received an MFA in 1999. Her honors include being named as one of the “21 Under 30 Top Artists to Watch” in 2004 by Southwest-Art Magazine, “Top Visual Artist” in 2006 by Kansas City Magazine, a “Merit Award for Best Product Design” from Interior Design Magazine, 2008, and a number of editorials in Architectural Digest, Elle Décor, Vogue, Town and Country, Women’s Wear Daily, Veranda, Metropolitan Home, House Beautiful and Spaces Kansas City for her surface design work for Porter Teleo.
Kelly Porter’s artwork can be seen in private and corporate collections nationwide, including: University of Kansas Hospital, Kansas City, KS, Poetry and Rare Books Collection of New York, NY, Utilicorp, Kansas City, MO, Sprint Corporate Collection, Overland Park, KS, Brandmeyer Enterprises, LLC, Leawood, KS, Shook Hardy and Bacon, Kansas City, MO, Houlihan’s Restaurant Corp, Chicago, IL, American Century, Kansas City, MO, and other public spaces including New York Fashion Week VIP Lounge, the Greenville Symphony Auditorium and the New York Palace Hotel Lobby. She has received numerous accolades in the art and design community and was recently honored as a guest speaker at the Creative Leadership Symposium through Hallmark, Kansas City, MO.
Porter lives and works in Kansas City. She has been represented by Blue Gallery in the Kansas City Crossroads Arts Districts since 2000.