Interview: Morgantown-based artist Kelly Keifer

Kelly Keifer is exhibiting in Colours of Mothering II, alongside Martyna Matusiak and myself (Sally Deskins) at The Diamond Shop Gallery in Morgantown opening this Saturday, March 10! Keifer shares with Boss Babes about how she became an artist, this exhibit, being an artist in Morgantown and more…

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BB: How did you end up in West Virginia?

K: My father’s family lived in Edenborn, around Uniontown, PA.  His family were coal miners.  After my grandfather was killed in a coal mine, my Nana remarried.  Then, they both moved to Morgantown.  When they both were getting older, we moved them down to Florida to take care of them.  My sister came up to sell their house.  I joined her for a summer and never left.

BB: How did you come to be an artist?

K: I used to draw pictures for friends and family.  Feel in love with color and, in turn, spent a lot of time watching how light and color would play outside together.  I went to the CAC for the Creative Arts program and ended up getting my BA in Art History.  Worked with non-profits for 20 some years because I loved my community and I could write grants.  Ended up at WVU in a full-time position at Adventure WV and went back to school at the CAC in their painting program (33 hours).  I ended up at the gallery.  I just love to paint.

BB: How did this exhibition come about? Why is this important for the Morgantown community?

K: This exhibition is the second of its kind.  We have some wonderful artists in the area who happen to also be mothers.  The show celebrates their own personal journeys through their work.  I love this series because the paintings derive from some of my favorite photos of my baby girl, now 13 years old going on 40.  It is also very special to me as it encompasses three generations:  my mom took the photos of my daughter of which I painted.  At this point, she would not be caught dead wearing a dress or with her hair down.  However, her spirit will never be outgrown.  Her wisdom, compassion, kindness, and thoughtful spirit are always present in her eyes and smile.  She is my baby girl and always will be.

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BB: How do you think the environment is for the arts in Morgantown? How do you think it could improve?

K: I think it is growing, but I would like to see us reach out to other communities to develop a more global relationship with them.  It would be great if we could become some type of mecca for artists to come visit & share work/ideas.  Look how beautiful this state is!

 BB: What is your favorite thing about being an artist/creative/curator in Morgantown?

K: Great people, friends, and my daughter was born here.  She loves it here. 

BB: Any advice for young artists in the area?

K: Don’t be afraid to show your work and look for opportunities to do so. 

BB: What would people be surprised to know about you?

K: I used to box in the area.  Only had one official fight and lost.  Trained with Jim March in the early 90’s.

BB: Anything to add?

K: Just to remember we live in one incredibly, beautiful world.  Don’t forget to enjoy it. 

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Colours of Mothering-II, opens Saturday, March 10, 6-9pm, at The Diamond Shop Gallery, 320 High Street in Morgantown, and runs through March 31. Visit facebook.com/diamondshopart for more information.

For more of Kelly’s art visit kellykeifer.com.

Sally Deskins is an artist, writer and curator. She currently serves as Exhibits & Programs Coordinator with West Virginia University Libraries. She also blogs at femmesfollsnebraska.tumblr.com. Wanna be interviewed? Email her at sallydeskins@yahoo.com.