Kris Kelley Studios
artist : freelance photographer


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Statement of Purpose Final Draft

After much writing, revising, draft after draft after draft, I have finally finished my Statement of Purpose! I have pasted it below and omitted some information that is either private or relevant to the program. This draft will be modified for each program, but this gives an idea of what it will contain.  If you have any questions about my statement, please feel free to contact me! 

*Edit on 02/10/14: I have moved on in the interview process for several programs, and many professors referenced the strength of my statement, so I must have done something right :)*

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________. However, it was not until the night of my college thesis show that I fully appreciated how my story, translated through my art, could give strength to others.

During the closing moments of the show, I stood next to a friend in front of my installation, Monument. She slid her trembling hand into mine and took a breath. “I was raped,” she whispered. “I’ve never told anyone.” I sat perfectly still, lost for words. After a long silence, she exhaled. Like me and like so many women who have been victimized before her, she had carried her burden secretly and solitarily. But that day something in my artwork prompted her confession; it gave her the courage to give voice where before she was silent. In that moment, I realized that my artwork was not only an invitation for reflection, but also an act of strength, voice, and most surprisingly, community. That night I would go on the win the Lynette Nielsen Senior Award.  When the award was presented, the judges said that my art gave them "hope for humanity."

As an undergraduate, I studied Studio Art and Psychology, and later took Master's courses in Psychology. My background in Psychology has greatly influenced my art, informing my research and driving creative decisions. I have also been influenced by artists such as Francis Alys and Vik Muniz who use their work to catalyze change and artists such as Mary Kelly, Amelia Jones, and Ana Mendieta, who focus on the body itself as a tableau, agent of violence, or a tool for social awareness. As a sophomore, I was awarded the Lynette Nielson Award for my piece Extant Halcyon, which explores pacifism and violence of the Buddhist monks who self-immolating to protest during the Vietnam War. In the previous year, I was chosen to receive the Phi Beta Kappa Gerda Blumental Award to photograph and study the decay of post-dissolution monasteries and abbeys in England. As a freshman, I was awarded the Friends of the Arts Juror award for a series of three works called Entoure which explore the role of the body in the perception of sensation.

My more recent works were preceded by extensive research and planning to accurately represent and fully explore the concepts of psychological trauma and abuse, drawing upon history and contemporary culture to create connections. Through constructing Cautionary Tales for Children, I became increasingly interested in the familial patterns underlying many cases of sexual and physical abuse. In the series Untitled Mugshot Study, I used photographic research methods, similar to those used in genetic studies by Sir Francis Galton, to build three case studies of families where sexual and physical abuse spans generations. For my current piece in progress, I am utilizing photography to document the physical manifestation of psychological trauma, focusing on the transformation of the body during prolonged sexual abuse and psychological torture.

Although I have worked in a variety of mediums throughout my artistic career, I have found that nothing else can express the immediacy and honesty of my feelings like a photo. The dichotomous nature of photography is well-suited for making strong visual connections and engaging the viewer, as it captures reality, yet this reality can be destabilized through abstraction or manipulation. I have used photography as a method of engagement with the difficult, painful reality of physical and mental trauma. Through juxtaposing my photography with installation, sculpture, print media and audio, I disrupt the viewer’s assumptions of familiarity and safety, demonstrating that neither the infliction nor the survival of trauma are solitary acts. In graduate school, I plan to embark upon a deeper investigation of trauma through photography, and to direct my investigations to help people confront their own trauma and reflect on their roles in shaping the experiences of others. I want to create works that will connect with a wide range of viewers to challenge assumptions about psychological trauma and abuse, and through awareness, effect change. I also want to contribute to the art world through writing and educating, and in the future I hope to hold a leadership role within an art foundation or non-profit organization. 

I know that the Photography program at _______ is the ideal venue for me to pursue graduate study and progress towards my professional goals. ________ Photography program encourages conceptual and interdisciplinary work, which is especially important to me because I want to challenge traditional photography practices and utilize multiple mediums in order to not just articulate my ideas, but ultimately to reshape photography into a new medium. I feel that educating viewers is paramount to engaging them, and through studying theory, criticism, and history at _________, I will become better equipped to help viewers translate theory and history into practical applications.

A particularly exciting aspect of ________ Photography program is the opportunity to _________. This program is especially interesting to me because it includes a discussion of visual representation in reality versus imagery, which is a question I find both interesting and highly relevant to my work. As a graduate student in the _____ Photography department I would also relish the other opportunities such as attending lectures and meeting accomplished artists, curating exhibitions, and collaborating with other students at ________ and artists in the greater _________ community. With the guidance of the faculty and access to the resources available at _______, I will be able to reach a new level of artistic ability and create works that will help realize my goals of educating, healing, and catalyzing social change.

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