M Kellman

My work focuses on heritage and identity. How do we understand who we are in relation to the past?

I am interested in the conversation between memory and history, and about the choices we make about when to pull from the past and when to discard it in favor of a new trajectory. How does memory—collective and individual—influence our perception of the contemporary? What is the role of heritage—cultural, artistic, political—today, and how and what do we inherit?

I use subtractive methods as a primary strategy for investigating these questions: the act of drawing becomes a gestural performance of the constant negotiation between remembering, forgetting, and reinterpreting the past. Similarly, I select a limited cast of materials—charcoal, copper, buckthorn berries—and use them repeatedly across various iterations—as vine charcoal and India ink, as etching matrix and copperpoint, as pigment and dye—so as to draw out the different emotional experiences associated with their various histories. These strategies result in drawings with a minimal touch, a gesture slight enough to suggest form and meaning to the viewer without prescribing it. Rather, my work relies on each viewer to complete an interpretation by negotiating their own position between realism and abstraction, past and present, memory and imagination.


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