Keltie Ferris Dives 2018

Oil and acrylic on canvas
97 1/8 by 77 in.  246.7 by 195.6 cm.

The Speed Art Museum is proud to present a solo exhibition of paintings and works on paper by the artist Keltie Ferris. Born in Louisville in 1977, Ferris offers a fresh approach to abstract painting and the exploration of the artist’s identity through the body. Featuring artworks from the last eight years, Keltie Ferris: *O*P*E*N* celebrates an artist who thoughtfully examines the language and history of painting and the meaning of being an artist today.

For the past fourteen years Ferris has employed techniques that defy expectations. Using spray paint, she adopts a language associated with graffiti and home décor and deftly applies it to her canvases, creating effects which range from pointillist explosions and vibrational blurs, to arabesque curves and swirls of lines. Her use of the palette knife, particularly in recent years, led Ferris to build up thick impasto areas of color that project forward on the canvas, enhancing the illusion of depth.

Through this survey of work, Keltie Ferris: *O*P*E*N* charts an evolution in Ferris’s practice, from her paintings that evoke star constellations, digital pixilation, and networks of waves and light, to her most recent body of work, which prominently uses spray-painted lines, raised polygonal shapes, and areas of erasure, to create dynamic and complex compositions.

In addition to paintings, this exhibition will include a series of new body prints. Ferris creates these prints by covering herself in oil, laying atop a sheet of paper, and applying pigment to the paper’s surface. The resulting prints have an intense, vibrant color and a deliberately androgynous appearance, highlighting the artist’s fluid gender identity.  Ferris began creating body prints in 2013, drawing inspiration from Jasper Johns’s “Skin” prints and David Hammons’s body prints from the 1960s. In contrast to Yves Klein’s Anthropometry series, in Ferris’s work the female body becomes an active agent in performing and blurring gender identities. Through her prints Ferris highlights a personal, indexical relationship to her work, while simultaneously summoning the idea of an army of citizens or an electorate.