Kelly Kessler


Kelly Kessler makes the Anthracite series of sculptural objects and a line of animated, handmade, functional pottery.  She has shown across the country, including the National Craft Showroom in New York, Lill Street Gallery in Chicago and Craft Alliance Gallery in St. Louis.  Kelly has been an instructor at Columbia College; Lill Street Learning Center; Watkins College of Art and Design; and Sarratt Art Studios.  She has also taught workshops at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Indiana University in Fort Wayne, and the University of Chicago.  She apprenticed as a potter at Berea College in Kentucky, and pursued graduate studies at University of Minnesota.  She studied with several fine potters and teachers: Walter Hyleck, Silvie Granatelli, Walter Ostrom, and Mark Pharis.

Kelly has valued working with her hands since she was a kid.  She now lives and works in Nashville, TN.


I remember, long before I learned to read, staring at the black marks on a printed page. I knew there was meaning there, but I couldn’t pry it out. I return now to those dark forms on light ground in my work. This is shadow work.

In my studio I ask myself:  Why this shape?  How does it feel in my hands? What skin goes on this form? Why do these shapes create energy in the gaps between them when I bring them together?  What will make this feel born, not made?

I do not know the answers, and so I work.

This Anthracite series swells from the inside out like a fresh inhalation, like a pod about to burst. The surfaces of my Blossfeldt buds and Shapes bustle with patterns. The Specters are rubbed smooth, gleaming like old polished leather. At times I see them as a future alphabet yet to be worn down by use into familiar, simplified symbols.