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April, 2015

Featured Artist

Kelly Alexander

I am an emerging artist with a passion for printmaking. Currently I work as a Senior Admissions Counselor for the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design. Keeping art and design alive is very important to me. I am surrounded by creative individuals everyday who are striving to make an impact. A community stays connected by having those creative thinkers alter the way we perceive the world.

Kelly will be in the studio January - May.


A Conversation with Kelly Alexander

by Don Niederfrank

Kelly and I met at the Daily Baking Co. on an unseasonably warm Friday morning. The place was crowded, but we had a small round table to ourselves. We chatted about various things before moving on to art.
D: Did you always do art?
K: I did. I was always drawing as a kid. I remember in elementary school drawing a tree… I've always been drawn to nature and trees because my parents exposed me to environments like that at a young age. My mom took me on hikes and my dad is a hunter. As I walked through these places I notice the way branches move and created lines and shapes.
D: In high school too?
K: I took all the art classes I could in high school. It was a small school. We didn't have advanced classes like Jane (Suddendorf, Gallery 224 Director) does. I wonder how my art would be now if we had, but I kept myself pretty busy with band as well. I played the clarinet and oboe.
D: What about after high school?
K: I went to community college and then MIAD (Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design). I grew up in a small town near Joliet and always thought that I would end up going to Chicago for art school, but our art teacher took us on a trip to Milwaukee. Our first stop was at MIAD. I decided to go to the art museum instead of a tour of the college and that I would make my way back to MIAD. Later my mom brought me back, and I loved the school and that part of Milwaukee.  It was definitely the right choice.
D: When did you graduate from MIAD?
K: In 2010 and my major was printmaking. I now work there as a Senior Admissions Counselor. I guide students through the application process, getting their portfolio together, and informing them about MIAD’s programs and opportunities.
D: What media do you work in? What's your favorite medium?
K: Printmaking is my all time favorite. I like that you don't always know what's going to happen with your image. It's an adrenaline rush sometimes and there's so much you can do especially if you like to drawing, painting, or installations.  I’ve found that it’s a process that can adapt to many things. I work well with layers and assembling, which allows me to construct and organize my work. Currently I’m re-exploring paper cutting, which is a craft in itself.
D: What kind of paper do you work with?
K: I'm working with cardstock and thin Japanese paper, but it also depends on the look I’m going for. I try to work with many different types of paper. I'm working towards illustrating stories through paper cutting and using inspiration from nature.
(We then exited to the studios downstairs so she could show me some of her work.)
D: Do you see your completed work before you begin?

K: I try to get the composition down first and always start with a sketch. My ideas are built from researching images, personal life situations, and of course walking through nature.
D: Do the ideas for your art come to you while you work or while you're away from work?

K: Both really. My ideas come when I'm doing art and not doing art. I sometimes get ideas on my commute to MIAD, in the middle of the night, and I tend to daydream about my art a lot.

D: Is there an artist or are there artists that have influenced you in your work?
K: Some of the artists that have influenced my work, which are mostly females are Georgia O'keeffe, Judy Pfaff, Lesley Dill, Kara Walker, and Louise Bourgeois. They all work in a various types of mediums and most of their subject matter is about our connection to surrounding environments.
D: How many hours a week do you work on your art?
K: Not enough. I have a full time job, so I have trouble finding the time I want. Ideally, if I could work on my art all day long I would.
D: What's the hardest thing for you as an artist?
K: Finding time for it and keeping a consistent studio practice. Just like anything we may have a passion for, it’s important to have a set amount of hours dedicated to it.


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