Born in 1967 in Flint, Michigan, United States, Kelly Reemtsen first studied fashion design and fine arts at the Central Michigan University and the California State University Long Beach. Afterwards, she concentrated on painting with Michael Tracy and at Otis Parsons, LA. Later she learned printmaking at the Hee Sook Kim Studio and the Modern Multiples Fine Art Editions and deepened her knowledge in several workshops and residencies. The Royal Academy of London crowned this activity with the selection of one of her prints as lead image for the 2019 London Original Print Fair.
Kelly’s oeuvre varies from painting, pastels and different kinds of prints to sculpture. Many of her works reflect upon the traditional female role model and its evolution. In her pictorial representations, she equips feminine dressed women with handicraft devices. The influence of her early fashion design studies shines through robes and accessories of the protagonists: they are wearing fashionable designer dresses with fancy jewellery. Whereas the mostly carried tools might be innocent like a spade, but could be also huge hammers and hedge trimmers up to brachial chainsaws, as in our artwork of the month January 2020. To encourage women, her role models are depicted as anonymous torsos, with which everyone can identify.
Her earlier sculptures were enlarged pills and capsules. She treated them as design accessories, likewise fashionable jewellery. Moreover, they hint to the later tools in her images: “You know, you’re not feeling well, you have a headache – you take an aspirin. If you need to cut down a tree, you use a chainsaw…”*. In 2015, Kelly created a series of oversized lipsticks with the title “Fuck the System”. The crushed make-up pens seem to be a statement for female rebellion against the traditional assignment. Similar to her pictorial development from former painted design chairs to strong female figures, she translated her questioning about gender, power and femininity in her sculptural oeuvre.
Directly after her studies, Kelly started to participate in numerous group exhibitions, mainly in the United States, likewise her earlier solo exhibitions. Meanwhile her works were also represented in Europe, for example in Belgium, Denmark, France and most recently in London with her show “Fix It” at Lyndsey Ingram. Her works are part of several collections in the United States and abroad.
Kelly lives and works in Los Angeles.