Keltie Ferris - Photo of the artist in her studio - Photo Credits Pencil In The Studio

Keltie Ferris

United States 1977


Keltie Ferris
Keltie Ferris
United States
January 17, 2015
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Keltie Ferris is an artist that caught the public eye for her large-scale canvases covered with numerous layers of spray paint that form characteristic geometric fields. Ferris’s pixilated backgrounds and atmospheric foregrounds of these geometric depictions create an illusion of depth that allows for multidimensional readings and analyses of the work. Her colorful paintings are full of vividness and life, literally bursting with energy. Perhaps the best depiction of her artwork was published in The New Yorker magazine: Picture Monet’s garden as a graffiti-tagged plot in Bushwick and you get some sense of the grit, bravado, and beauty of these big abstract paintings made of oil, spray paint and pastel.

Keltie Ferris - Blueprint, 2015 (Left) --- Sidestep, 2015 (Right) - Of all the New York oil works, the work of Keltie Ferris's canvas looks the most like Mitchell-Innes nash body work
Keltie Ferris – Blueprint, 2015 (Left) / Sidestep, 2015 (Right)

Early Life And Education

Keltie Ferris was born during the year of 1977 in Louisville, Kentucky. She was exposed to artistic ways of thinking and expressing from an early age. A friend of her family was an owner of an extensive art collection and that allowed young Keltie to stroll around some of the most important paintings of art history before she even old enough to go to an elementary school! How many people can say that they spent their toddler years by directly exploring works of Pablo Picasso? Ferris’s mother and father had painter’s blood in them as well, so there really was never any doubt if Keltie would try herself at painting too. After she finished the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, the artist gained her advanced knowledge of art on the Yale University in New Haven, where she received her MFA in 2006. Studying at such a prestigious university provided Keltie Ferris with a vast understanding of how to express herself artistically to a maximum degree. One of Ferris’s teachers at Yale, Peter Halley, had a massive impact on the artist’s style and its development. He once told her that the paintings she creates are not expressive of emotion in the typical sense of the word, but are expressive of energy. After graduation, Ferris moved to New York City and worked at Izquierdo Studio in Manhattan, where she made, among other things, props for the Victoria’s Secret models and complex arrangements for Ralph Lauren.

Keltie Ferris tries to place as much energy in her work as possible

Keltie Ferris - CiTiZeN, 2016 (Left) --- HERCULES, 2016 (Right) - Of all the New York oil works, the work of Keltie Ferris's canvas looks the most like Mitchell-Innes nash body work
Keltie Ferris – CiTiZeN, 2016 (Left) / HERCULES, 2016 (Right)

Analyzing Her Artwork

The characteristic balance and symmetry inside Keltie Ferris’s paintings make them extremely tempting to try and understand the grids and formations this artist creates. However, this is not an easy task, as you will soon come to see. It is possible to note several techniques Keltie Ferris uses regularly on her pieces. One of the biggest difference between her and the rest of painters is that Ferris often turns to the application of spray paint that is used in graffiti street art and airbrushing. The artist started using spray paint in order to make gestural, expressive marks that serve as a modern looking modification of the traditional brush stroke. She also uses traditional paint through the usage of broad brushstrokes and it can be noticed she often turns to natural oils. Ferris’s oversize – typically 80-inch square – canvases are impressive harmonies of layered contrasts that she describes as individual persons. She once stated: Sometimes I think of my paintings as people, like I’m sending them out into the world and they’ll have their own relationships to people and writers and cameras. You make them the best you can and then they go on to have their own lives. As you can see, the art of Keltie Ferris is a complex one – her strong patterns and electric colors simply invite attention.

Ferris often likes to think of her paintings as human individuals, all different in their own way

Keltie Ferris - [to be titled], 2016 (Left) --- ((BedStuy)), 2016 (Right) - Of all the New York oil works, the work of Keltie Ferris's canvas looks the most like Mitchell-Innes nash body work
Keltie Ferris – Untitled, 2016 (Left) / ((BedStuy)), 2016 (Right)

A Further Look At Ferris’s Paintings

Ferris’s compositions are obviously influenced by dynamics of the expressionist paintings. However, although that may be the main feature of Expressionism movement, Keltie Ferris’s paintings are not made impulsively, they are not even that dependent on the type of mood the artist is in while painting. As her Yale teacher said, what they are is full of energy – pulsing beyond the limits of the canvas and vibrating with power. Keltie Ferris likes to describe her painting process as trying to keep all the paths alive. This may be interpreted in a way that connects all her pieces in one logical group, as they are all somehow bonded. Very conceptual and symbolic, but amidst that abstraction lies Ferris’s inner life – all the monster, defensive towers, emanating rays of light. Keltie Ferris’s paintings have been included in numerous group exhibitions at institutions around The United States, at such galleries as The New York’s Kitchen, The Addison Gallery, The Nerman Museum and The Indianapolis Museum of Art. She has been recognized for her works on many occasions, including the Jacob Javits Fellowship and a Rema Hort Mann Foundation Grant.

Keltie Ferris - ID, 2015 (Left) --- Primary Spiral, 2015 (Right) - Of all the New York oil works, the work of Keltie Ferris's canvas looks the most like Mitchell-Innes nash body work
Keltie Ferris – ID, 2015 (Left) / Primary Spiral, 2015 (Right)

A Unique Artist

I like the feeling of looking through things to the world you can’t quite access, or a residue of a former world that you can’t quite get to, and I try to have that in my paintings. With these words, Ferris gives us a further insight into her work, but still does not compromise her mysticism. Through minimal materials and vague impressions, Ferris uses bursts of yellow, pink and blue to tempt us into intruding her flat fields of color and geometry. This artist may have took some concepts from avant-garde painters such as Henri Matisse and Piet Mondrian, but ultimately Keltie Ferris managed to create a whole new world of expression based on uncontrollable energy, intense colors and strict shapes.

Keltie Ferris lives and works in Brooklyn, New York City.

Featured Image: Keltie Ferris – Photo of the artist in her studio – Photo Credits Pencil In The Studio
All Images Photo Credits Keltie Ferris

YearName of the exhibitionsMuseum/GallerySolo/Group
2016Keltie Ferris Klemm's Berlin, Berlin, Germanysolo
2016Keltie Ferris Mitchell-Innes & Nash - West Street, New York City, NYsolo
2015Saturn Drive L40 – Verein zur Förderung von Kunst und Kultur am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz e.V., Berlingroup
2015Performative Process Halsey McKay Gallery, East Hampton, NYgroup
2014Body Prints Chapter NY, NY solo
2014Keltie Ferris Santa Monica Museum, Santa Monica, CA solo
2014Abstract America TodaySaatchi Gallery, London group
2014Wanton Mobility KLEMM’S, Berlin group
2014Shakti Brand New Gallery, Milan group
2014Invitational Exhibition of Visual Arts Academy of Arts & Letters, New York, NY group
2014Outside The Lines CAMH, Houston, TX group
2013Brooklyn Rail Brooklyn, NY group
2013Paint On Paint Off Halsey McKay, East Hampton, NY group
2013On the Grid Magnus Gallery, New York, NY group
2012Keltie Ferris Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York, NY solo
2012Raw-Cooked: Ulrike Müller Brooklyn Museum, NY group
2012Astral Weeks Gallery Diet, Miami, FL group
2012Open Windows Addison Gallery, Phillips Academy, Andover, MA group
2011The Working Title Bronx River Art Center, Bronx, NY group
2011Salon Zürcher Paris, FR group
2010KF+CM 4EVER Horton Gallery, New York, NY solo
2010Spray! D’Amelio-Terras, New York, NY group
2010Purity is a Myth Pilar Corrias, London, England group
2010Illusions Lounge David Castillo Gallery, Miami, FL group
2010Informal Relations Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art, Indianapolis, IN group
2010This Is A Performance ACP, Los Angeles, CA group
2010It’s All American New Jersey Museum of Contemporary Art, Asbury Park, NJ group
2009Man Eaters Kemper Museum, Kansas City, MO solo
2009This is a Test ACP @ X Initiative, New York, NY group
2009The Open Deitch, Long Island City, NY group
2009Aberrant Abstraction The Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Overland Park, KS group
2009Besides, With, Against, And Yet: Abstraction and the Ready-Made The Kitchen, New York group
2009Oculus Imaginationis Horton Gallery, New York, NY group
2009The Best is Yet to Come Galleria Glance, Turino, Italy group
2009Rattled By the Rush Andrew Rafacz Gallery, Chicago, IL group
2009DiSoRgAnIzEd (Another 24 Hours) Museum 52, New York group
2008Dear Sir or Madame SUNDAY L.E.S., New York, NY solo
2008Keltie Ferris & Molly Larkey SUNDAY LE.S., New York, NY group
2008Party at Phong’s House Galeria Janet Kurnatowski, Brooklyn, NY group
2008There is No There There Rivington Arms, New York, NY group
2008Accident Blackspot Freight + Volume, New York group
2008Defining A Moment: 25 New York Artists House of Campari, New York group
2008Unnameable Things Artspace, New Haven, CT group
2008Accident Blackspot Markus Winter, Berlin, Germany group
2008Performed Identity Kathleen Cullen Fine Arts, New York group
2008Untitled (Works on Paper) Moti Hasson Gallery, New York, NY group
2008Unknown Bucket Rider Gallery, Chicago, IL group
2007Boy Genius Kinkead Contemporary, Los Angeles, CA solo
2007Boy Genius The Prequel, Scenic, New York, NY solo
2007Living Room Paintings, Painted Faces Kinkead Contemporary, Los Angeles, CA group
2007Some Kind of Portrait Marc Selwyn Fine Art, Los Angeles, CA group
2007Distinctive Messengers House of Campari, Miami, FL group
2006Flex Your Textiles John Connelly, New York, NY group
2006School Days Jack Tilton Gallery, New York, NY group
2006MFA Thesis Show Yale School of Art, New Haven, CTgroup