Kelli Vance: Context is Everything.

Kelli Vance 1

Houston, Texas artist Kelli Vance studied at Texas universities and apparently chose to stick close to home, teaching at various schools since, including her own alma maters, the University of Houston and the Glassell School of Art at the Houston Museum of Fine Arts.

Kelli Vance 2

Her brand of austere realism might recall any number of painters, though the specifics of Vance’s scenes and subjects make me scratch my head to think of accurate comparisons, scrolling through a mental list of various bad-girl/boy artists who like to play with conventions by juxtaposing provocative images in deceptively complacent looking settings. Some of these are pretty brave works depicting unsettling scenes, but with a kind of dark poetry about them that forces you to look…and just keep looking. And if that makes you uneasy, then I’m betting the artist would be pleased.

It’s interesting to consider how context is everything, though. Mystery/crime fiction enthusiasts are accustomed to — even expect — all kinds of murder and mayhem on treasured vintage pulp magazine and postwar paperback covers, treating them as kitschy novelties, often as not. But when those same things are depicted (nowhere near as gruesomely) in an entirely different context — in paintings hanging on a wall in a gallery or museum, for instance — they suddenly become that much more provocative and disturbing. Not drawing conclusions, mind you. I just find myself intrigued.

See more works in a following post…

Kelli Vance 3Kelli Vance 4Kelli Vance 5

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