Mary Kelsey, American (1949 - )

Mary Kelsey

MARY KELSEY is a painter and graphic artist whose work addresses human activity and the natural environment. Her art has been exhibited in New York, Boston, Cleveland and other cities, and published in book, map and illustration formats. Trained in anthropology as well as art, she was the recipient of a Fulbright grant to pursue art work in Central American rain forest communities. She lives in Cleveland, Ohio.

Drawing and painting have always given me great pleasure, and through making images I’ve tried to speak – in the way a visual artist speaks – about things that matter. Important themes include the natural world we live in and our ways of living in it.

For many years landscape inspired my art. At one point I wanted to learn more about the subtropical mangrove swamps I’d known as a child, so I traveled to Costa Rica where I first encountered a tropical rain forest. That led me to further investigations of these forests, their people, and their problems.

I spent a year and a half in Central America. I found myself making pen and ink drawings of people and places that told stories of forest preservation (or not). The anthropologist in me was intrigued by how people responded to my drawing them. I also collaborated with various local groups, providing illustrations for projects designed to slow or stop forest degradation.

Back in northeast Ohio, I'm still interested in how we inhabit our particular land and place. While it’s always harder to see one’s own culture from the outsider’s vantage, making images is one way for me to respond to this question.

Curriculum Vitae
Heights Bikeway Map, EcoCity Cleveland, 2002
Lake Erie Watersheds: a Bioregional Map, poster, EcoCity Cleveland,2000
“Land and dreams: one family’s conservation easement”, EcoCity Cleveland 6/01
“Eating regionally: a winter’s tale”, illustrated article, EcoCity Cleveland, 3/96
“Communities, pictures and conservation: an artist gathers images in Central
American rain forests.” High Plains Applied Anthropologist, 15:1, 1995
Sendero Nuevo, 120-page primer documenting Miskito cultural heritage: Bilingual
Education Program, Ministry of Education, Honduras, 1994
Photographs and drawings: Rio Platano Biosphere Reserve, Cafe y Naranja,
Tegucigalpa, IV:142, 1993
Coastal Talamanca: A Cultural and Ecological Guide, Costa Rica, 1993
Environmental education calendar, CARE Guatemala, 1993
“Conservation and community in Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula”, Cape Cod Times, 3/93
Poster for St. Croix Environmental Association, 1990

Projects and Teaching
“Cleveland Before Cleaveland” murals, Cleveland Museum of Natural History, 1996
Fulbright research grant: “Images of communities, rain forest conservation and
sustainable development”. Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras,1992-3
Graphic designer and assistant professor, Cape Cod Community College, 1988-94
Art Teacher: Syracuse University 1981; Phillips Academy, Andover, MA 1982-5

Selected Exhibitions
Northern Ohio Illustrators Society, Powerhouse Gallery, Cleveland: 1997, 1999
Central America Network, Escuela Popular, Cleveland, solo exhibition 1996
Watermark Restaurant, Cleveland, solo exhibition 1996
Wasmer Gallery, Ursuline College, Lyndhurst OH, 1996
Phillips Academy, Andover, MA, 1994
Stellwagen Gallery, Provincetown, solo exhibition 1991
Warwick Art Museum, Rhode Island, 1990
Cape Cod Community College, solo and group exhibitions, 1989, 1990
Babson College, Wellesley, MA: solo exhibition 1990
Chapel Gallery, Newton, MA: solo exhibition 1988; group exhibition 1990
Provincetown Art Association, 1989
Pleiades Gallery, New York, 1988
“Women and Watercolor”: Houston, 1988
Arnold Arboretum, Boston: solo exhibition 1986
Gallery 11, Tufts University, 1983
Van Buren Brazelton Cutting Gallery, Cambridge MA, 1982
Salander-O’Reilly Gallery, New York, 1977, 1978, solo exhibition 1980
Sunne Savage Gallery, Boston, solo exhibition 1979

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