My friends and I, we started in Savannah, we moved to Atlanta, and then a lot of them moved to New York. It’s harder in New York. The art scene is dead there. So they move back down here.
I think art needs to be out of the gallery, which is something you can do more easily in Atlanta. I think people need to see it. You know? Like on a daily basis. Just in passing too—90% of the population doesn’t understand anything about art, so just having them exposed to it constantly—that can make a big difference.
Vicki Kelly was the principal organizer behind Showtime, a mini art walk which took place in the three buildings on the corner of Edgewood and Boulevard. Organizing several art events around Atlanta, Kelly seeks to reimagine the process of viewing art. Additionally, Kelly is an accomplished sculpture finishing her final year at SCAD in Atlanta. I sat down with Kelly a few weeks ago to discuss her art, and how she interacts with Atlanta.
That’s a casting of David Meiche, of his shoulders and head. I tried to make a completely androgynous figure. It’s difficult. That’s an image that inspired me when I started working with gender identity issues. And to make a strongly masculine figure into a hybrid of male and female—it’s very difficult—somehow more difficult than turning a male model into a female or vice versa.
These are men that think they’re women. Some have vaginas cut into their heads … menstruating vaginas in their heads with maggots in them. You can see that the maggots are tiny white high heeled shoes. Their internal structure is from a casting of a woman’s head. And then it’s covered up with layers of bone wax, with the casting I made from David Meiche.
I’ve had five major back surgeries since the age of 17. My entire spine is fused together with titanium. The last two surgeries I had were in July of 2007. I’m still recovering. I’m on a social securities disability. So I get assistance, but I lose it really soon. But for the first time in my life, right now, I’m not in pain. I was in excruciating pain for the past six years. I had three failed back surgeries, and I was in excruciating pain constantly. And now, I haven’t been in pain for the past two years.
Nobody really knows what the Old Fourth Ward is. Nobody knows. When I say the Old Fourth Ward, it’s like people automatically assume it’s this horrible place and you shouldn’t even drive through it. So this art walk was partially a way of getting more people out there. I believe the Old Fourth Ward can be an epitome of Atlanta, in a sense. It’s where you can go in Atlanta to experience every single level of Atlanta, instead of the compartmentalization you normally see between neighborhoods.
One of the draws to Atlanta for me was the graffiti. Up north, it’s painted over instantly and it’s very frowned upon. There’s not much guerrilla art, there isn’t much tagging or sticker work. In Atlanta, once graffiti goes up it stays up. It’s like an additional historical layer all around us, and that’s one of the things I like most about Atlanta. That graffiti sensibility permeates the art world here.