Kelly Alexander: Artist in Residence at Forest Beach Migratory Preserve
July 13, 2020 | Topics: featured artist
The Natural Realm presents Kelly Alexander, who is one of 12 artists participating in a year-long residency program called ARTservancy, a collaboration between Gallery 224 in Port Washington and the Ozaukee Washington Land Trust, River Revitalization Foundation, Milwaukee Area Land Conservancy and the Western Great Lakes Bird and Bat Observatory. The mission of ARTservancy is to promote the visionary work of both the artists and conservationists. Each artist has selected a preserve to spend time in and to engage with.
Artist Statement by Kelly Alexander
One of my favorite things to do is walk in nature; it is also the first step in my studio practice. I’m a papercutting artist and my work is about wildlife, environments, and the cycle of life.
I am very excited to be making work about Forest Beach Migratory Preserve because of the prairies and farm land in which its framed. It reminds me of home. I grew up in a rural part of Illinois and have always found beauty in the changes of seasons, plants, and animals. The roots that inspire my passion for nature come from my parents who would take me hiking, fishing, and camping. From these outdoor experiences I learned to explore what is around us and how connected we can be with nature.
The first time I visited Forest Beach, I noticed that it was very peaceful. It was at the end of summer when all the monarch butterflies where around. You could smell the sweetness of wildflowers in the air and feel summer turning into autumn.
Most of my walks through the preserve have been accompanied by my dog Dotty. During the time we spent there together we discovered muskrats swimming, a variety of birds, plants, and the changes in weather. She especially likes the observation towers where we can see large areas of land and water.
In the winter months we would explore the icy ponds, fallen trees, and exposed branches. As spring approached I was informed about nesting season for birds. Since the 1970s, there has been a decline in the ground nesting species and they often nest close to the edge of trails. To help these birds as much as possible, the preserve has a no dog policy from April 1st through September 1st. This has given Dotty and me a chance to check out some of the other Ozaukee Washington Land Trust preserves, which allow on-leash dogs.
Forest Beach is an inspiring place and I admire its transformation. What once was a golf course with clean cut grass is now a sanctuary for wildlife. I’m so thankful for places like this that keep us connected to nature.
Kelly Alexander is a papercutting artist with a background in printmaking who lives and works in Wisconsin. Alexander received a BFA in Printmaking from the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design. During her time at MIAD she explored papercutting and printmaking together. She uses an Xacto knife to create artwork made up of intricately cut and layered colored papers portraying nature and the human figure. Alexander is interested in the connection and relationship the body has with nature. She is fascinated by how the body changes internally and externally to adapt to the environment.
Through the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design’s continuing education program she has taught screen printing, papercutting, figure drawing, and portfolio development classes. She currently works in the MIAD Admissions Office as Office Manager & Events Coordinator. Previously, she was an Admissions Counselor for many years, educating high school students about art school and guiding them through the college application process.
Her artwork has been exhibited in Illinois and throughout Wisconsin, including Gallery 224, Arts Mill, Plymouth Art Center, Wisconsin Visual Artists at Alverno College, Wisconsin Regional Art Program at Plye Center, Old Town Hall Gallery, Laura A. Sprague Art Gallery at Joliet Junior College, Visual Arts Gallery at Governors State University. In 2015, she participated in Gallery 224 Studio Artist Residency in Port Washington, WI.
Last summer she curated a group exhibit titled The Embodiment of Cycles with two other female artists. The exhibit was about each of the female’s experience with cycles of the body. Since then, Alexander has expanded on developing papercut pieces relating to the female body, health, and nature. This summer her papercutting work will be displayed at the Center for the Visual Arts in Wausau, WI in a solo exhibit entitled The Body Nourished by Nature.
Forest Beach Migratory Preserve is owned and managed by Ozaukee Washington Land Trust, which is also a partner organization to A Wealth of Nature. For more information about Forest Beach Migratory Preserve, click here.
This is the latest in our series of featured artists, which is intended to showcase the work of photographers, artists, writers and other creative individuals in our community whose subjects or themes relate in some broad sense to nature, urban nature, people in nature, etc. To see a list of previously featured artists, click here. The work of the current ARTservancy artists in residence will be exhibited monthly at Gallery 224 beginning in September 2020. To meet the other ARTservancy artists in residence, click here.
All images courtesy of the artist, except as noted. The featured photo at the top of the artist at Forest Beach Migratory Preserve is by Eddee Daniel.