I had the pleasure of meeting Shannon Kelly just days after Cura officially opened. It was clear in the first few minutes of her wandering in the shop, that our connection would extend beyond the walls of the store. What I didn’t know then was that Shannon like me, was entering a new phase in her life, having recently left a long merchandizing career to pursue her art, and that soon after we'd proudly carry her beautiful ceramics in store. Even more, I could have never imagined that 3 years later we'd be showcasing her newest body of work, "Portals". It is just a special kind of magic to reflect on -- the power of a chance encounter. "Chance" I suppose is a portal in it's own right, in this case a step into a collaborative future and a celebration of another female creative who has also become a dear friend. A truly "frosting on top" honor to hold space for and also to share with you.
Read more to learn about Shannon's journey, process and playlist. And do try to swing by to see the show. I’d be very surprised if you didn’t find a portal with your name on it.
"Working with clay gave me the physical separation from technology and perspective to reassess certain parts of my life"
This series, entitled PORTALS, was created as a medium for exploring new ways to perceive reality and integrate the shadow. The gateways invite the viewer to access energies or archetypes of new worlds, contemplate the possibilities of spacetime, and co-create their own aspirations.
Inspired by the juxtaposition of daydreams and the mundane while caregiving and navigating the healthcare system during the pandemic, these new sculptural forms are a result of healing escapism – a soft home for nourishing emotions and integrating transformation.
Expanding beyond functional pottery into ceramic installation work, the Portals in this collection are layered with hidden correspondences, mementos, imaginary creatures, dried plants/flowers, semiprecious stones, and agates from my paternal grandmother.
"These new sculptural forms are a byproduct of healing escapism – a soft home for nourishing emotions and generational transformation."
You went from a long career in marketing and retail to full time artist just a few years ago. What called you to leave a steady gig, mid career and pursue your creative heart?
Following my creative heart unfolded when I began reframing the labels that I’d defined as “doing” vs. “being”. I have always had a private creative practice and made jewelry in my early 20’s before choosing a more stable career with a guaranteed paycheck in merchandising. I mostly worked on visuals, design, and products in a small, rather autonomous, corner of marketing. This experience gave me the opportunity to invest in my intuition and artistic gifts slowly, on my timeline.
Five years ago, I registered for a wheel class because I didn’t want to wait to try it until I retire. I honestly never intended to change careers, but working with clay gave me the physical separation from technology and perspective to reassess certain parts of my life. In 2019, during a summer solstice ceremony with Tali Edut of the AstroTwins at Cura, I set the intention to pursue my art. When I got home from the gathering, I started planning my backyard studio.
Of course, it is taking me much longer for me to think of myself as an artist. I’m still fairly uncomfortable with labels like that but I do make ceramics and art objects full-time now thanks to the love and support of my friends, family, and community.
"In 2019, during a summer solstice ceremony with Tali Edut of the AstroTwins at Cura, I set the intention to pursue my art."
Can you tell us about the connection between your creative process and astrology? How do you see it showing up in your ceramics and art?
I’m a sun/moon Aquarius with a Leo rising. Very content straying from the norm and living in abstraction, with a logical twist. I love that there are infinite techniques, materials, processes, etc. available to me with clay and how working with ceramics utilizes all four elements.
What do you choose to invest in outside of your work? Could be your garden, an organization you care about etc..
When I launch a collection, I like to pay it forward by purchasing from another artists, making a donation, and/or shopping locally. I believe in community over competition, and try to support small businesses and independent makers as much as possible. My backyard studio is adorned with charms from Ola Wyola, MQuan, Depy Zepo, The Moon Studio, Guiomar Grau Rodriguez, Laura Skiles Bundy, and Salto Workshop.
What things or practices can’t you live without.
Intuition, loved ones, animal companionship, and glasses to see it all.
What's on your playlist right now?
Time (You and I) by Khruangbin. It’s part of my Fall Spotify playlist.
Portals available in store only or by email firstname.lastname@example.org
Shannon Kelly is an artist on the acknowledged traditional land of the first people of Seattle, the Duwamish People past and present. With the Portal sculptural forms, she expands beyond functional pottery into new installation work that dissects the possibilities of the space+time equation.
Follow her journey on IG: @orphanten