Kalamazoo, MI
one-hundred-forty Years of Service to the Student

Art Hop

Find Your Encouragement

Artist Kelan Gill before his work [Trisha Dunham / The Index]. Artist Kelan Gill before his work [Trisha Dunham / The Index].

Artist and Kalamazoo College senior Kelan Gill’13 bent the curving wood of one of his pieces as he explained his desire to create the piece.

“I like to focus on the stuff that we don’t talk about because there seems no point. Like the stuff that seems really irrelevant,” Gill said. “There’s this underlying human experience of just complete existential boredom that kind of manifests itself in different ways.”

The studio lights shown onto the piece drawing attention to the stark black lines that outlined the red cord phone, yellow ash tray, and half finished cigarette.

“I like to make work sometimes about that sort of feeling and that sort of experience.” Gill laughed as he explained how the experience of boredom is manifested in his piece “Like the idea that you’re waiting for a phone call and the cord is cut, the curtains drawn.”

Before Gill began art classes at Kalamazoo he did a lot of independent work. “I was self taught and really bad for a couple of years.”

Entering college he prepared to study software engineering or biology, and signed up for drawing as a fun class. Now it’s all he wants to do.

“I rather do my least favorite art than my favorite thing that isn’t art.” said Gill. “It’s this thing that I have to do.”

Gill’s work does not align with many traditional styles of art. He said he thinks it’s a good time for artists who don’t follow an academically trained style.

“I think a lot of my work it pretty automatic. I don’t think super hard about, about why I’m doing something, I just do it,” said Gill. “There’s a very logical mathematical flow to my art making process. I don’t know how to articulate it.”

For the amount of time it takes Gill to create a piece he takes four times that amount thinking about it. He said some of his favorite pieces were the ones he created in the shortest amount of time, comparing his creation process to an exploding geyser.

“I want my work to be a language of its own that is immediately gripping and understandable,” Gill said. “Most people only look at a piece of work on a wall for about fifteen seconds, so I’m going to make that fifteen seconds count.”

Gill said he finds inspiration from reactions of strong emotion.

“I think you need to find encouragement in disgust. The way I think about it is if someone hates my piece, I think that’s so good, that’s awesome,” said Gill. “I’m not doing it for them, I’m doing it for me, and I’m doing it for the person that takes more than those fifteen seconds. I just do it because I have to.”

“I was maybe going to add more to it but then I decided I didn’t’ like it and it needed to be finished, which was when I drew the speech bubble around it,” said Gill [Trisha Dunham / The Index].

“I was maybe going to add more to it but then I decided I didn’t’ like it and it needed to be finished, which was when I drew the speech bubble around it,” said Gill [Trisha Dunham / The Index].

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Find Your Encouragement