Kelsey Bowen spent her childhood in the rural California foothills, growing a strong root system of inspiration in animals and nature. In her sculptural narratives, her work stitches surreal landscapes and their characters together into story tales. Often linking to her own, personal youth, these stories connect her to a childhood longing of bringing the make believe to life.
Kelsey is a graduate of the California College of the Arts Ceramics Program, and is currently creating work as a Long Term Artist in Residence at the Red Lodge Clay Center in Montana. She has participated in various exhibitions with her work, including a publication in Ceramics Monthly, the California Conference for the Advancement of Ceramic Arts in Davis, the American Museum of Ceramic Arts in Los Angeles, and her BFA solo exhibition in Oakland, California.
"Childhood is my metaphor for grief; a way of continuing to feel love and conjure memories of the past, a calm heaviness that holds me in a place of both sadness and nostalgia. Memories of times before the recent passing of my grandfather are sacred spaces, while others that uncoil can be unwelcome. My metaphor is a recurring theme in my work, drawing on childhood simultaneously as both the fairytale and the nightmare. My sculptures are often vessels that capture the echoes of small children playing; sometimes the echoes are of my own voice borrowed from the time and place they were created years ago.
My tactile relationship with clay is my process of release and understanding. When I’m working on a piece, I feel in fleeting moments that it’s come to life, existing both here in reality and in its own surreal narrative. Working with my forms and creating these brief moments for myself are my last lingering stitches of childhood and a way to connect myself to what is no longer my tangible reality. For a moment, the fantastical objects in my world are alive and the stories I am telling are curiously real."