kelly kozma

Well, she could not be more correct about that … this shit IS bananas. Ah, gorgeous work featuring a lot of bananas, punched paper circles, french knots as far as the eye can see – not to mention all of those smiley faces – all with an underlying message about the current state of the world. The hanging, for example, is titled “Was Happy Cancelled?”  This is the most recent work of Philadelphia based artist Kelly Kozma, and is currently part of a group show {with Sarah Detweiler and Han Cao} at Paradigm Gallery. Here are Kelly’s honest and beautiful words about this body of work, titled “Yesterday, Ten Years Ago”:

“Since the beginning of quarantine I felt the need to create bright and happy work. It seemed like that was the ticket to successfully convince myself that things would be ok. It would work for a while, and then another news cycle would unfold and the sparkle would dull. So I’d throw more color and shiny bits at it; think a superhero with glitter lasers coming out of the fingers. It got a little harder to get knocked down, and a little easier to get back up. This work became a shelter when I needed a place to hide and a shield when I felt strong enough to fight.

Even though my process is about adding on and building, conceptually it was more equivalent to chiseling. I slowly removed layers of loss, uncertainty, and anxiety to try and find some nugget of truth, comfort and stability. I never found those things, or at least not in a concrete way. However, I discovered that the search itself (ie: the process of making) was the most helpful way to alleviate the pain I was feeling. The slow nature of stitching and knotting thread is my way of marking time and I often found myself thinking “Things will be better when I’m done with this piece, things will have changed.” Sometimes they did, sometimes they had gotten worse, and other times I noticed I had just gotten better at adapting. But regardless, there was a physical object where there once was not; a record of that moment in time.

The radiant palette and light hearted imagery are a reflection of both my deep sadness and my highest hopes. On one hand, this work is about the facades we put up to protect ourselves and the faces we wear to create an idealized version of how we want to be perceived. However, there is also an intention to simply create a lightness and allow time and space to gaze upon something joyful and whimsical. I made bright and happy work from a dark place. My goal is not to disguise our experiences but rather channel their energy into something beautiful.” 

Love, love, love. Happy Monday. {These original pieces are currently available through Paradigm Gallery.}












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