Nashville Visual Artists-Megan Kelley

    I had the pleasure of spending the afternoon at Platone Printmaking watching Megan Kelley work the printing press. Read the interview and learn more about her work!


I had the pleasure of spending the afternoon at Platone Printmaking watching Megan Kelley work the printing press. Read the interview and learn more about her work!

What is the theme of your work? 

Much of my work follows documenting or interpreting narratives, often in transmedia formats: whether my own, those of the world around me, or imagined stories. I also work to encourage dialogues through my work; often my work is interactive, seeking audience engagement as a fundamental part of the experience and piece. I like to think of my work as the experience of sitting around the archetypal campfire in the wilderness: a place for us disparate wanderers to pause, share stories, pass tokens of mythology and engage in barter. Sometimes I collect these from you; sometimes I give you mine; sometimes we create one together. 
As much as I enjoy developing or facilitating works that fall more into the realm of social practice and/or communally- or collaboratively- created pieces, that can be an intensive process that requires a strong sense of my own personal work, so in general, the bulk of my works are based in or draw from my experiences - my views, translations, and creations that reflect how I've interacted with the world - and the physical work focuses on bringing those to other people, whether as physical objects, immersive environments, or digital experiences.

What inspires your work? 

Brecht is known to have said that "The Whole Universe interests me," and I find that phrase to be fairly true for me as well. I read voraciously on a number of subjects - from art to medicine to science to psychology to mythology, and everywhere in-between - and through those explorations, I am drawn again and again to the nebulous, intellectual, individualized space between how we interact with the world and how we learn to make sense of it: perceptive frameworks, memory, mythos, behavioral patterns. 
In particular, I keep turning back to look at how I myself engage the world as a sense-maker; many of my works engage self-portraiture as a starting point, whether referenced directly (I return again and again to the image of my own hands with their distinctive rings, or to the surprises of my face, or the chapters of my recollections) or indirectly (such as the imagined landscape of the online game, The Inbound Lands, where viewers can enter and wander what is essentially a stylized construct of my mental debris and landmarks). 
Finally, I am caught by the simple things: organic forms, color relationships, and the push and pull of line. I walk often, with sketchbook or camera, and I "notetake" relentlessly with these tools. These places that snag me have purpose, even if I haven't uncovered it fully yet, so I try to honor that by being open.

What are the goals for your work? 

An immediate goal I hope my work has is the ability to cause others to stop, consider, question, connect, or challenge. It's important to me that my work be accessible in some form: that even if the concept is difficult or relies on content that's a bit more obscure, that the audience can come into my process, or into my purpose, or my studio, and find some way to have an experience with and through the work. When it comes to art, I feel that when we as audiences have an invitation into understanding work, we can then begin to understand the value of art (that specific work as well as in art in general). It's important to me to facilitate that invitation.
The biggest goal I have is personal, however selfish that might be: I want the work to continue to do that for me, as the maker, to likewise stop, consider, question, connect, and challenge. I want it to continue to leave me sitting up in the night, full of ideas; I want it to again and again make me pause and reflect and wonder how I'm approaching making; I want it always to make me leap forward, raising new questions by having answered this one. I feel if I manage that, the rest will take care of itself.

What are your thoughts on the Nashville Arts Scene?

I made a very deliberate choice in Nashville after comparing it comprehensively to similar cities, and I believe strongly in the ability of our city and its inhabitants to rise to that choice. I've said for a long time that Nashville is large enough to accept change, but intimate enough for you to be that change-agent on a personal, individual level. In general, Nashville stands beside people who go out and do what they believe in. Nashville has had a strong tradition of collaborative community within its art scenes, and I find that strength and support active and vital in the visual arts community in ways that I didn't see in other cities. If we continue to foster that, it can be powerful.
That being said, we're growing so quickly, and I think it's more important than ever for us as artists to take an active role in the cultivation of our city. We have much to contribute if we speak up, if we act, if we offer.

You can learn more about Megan's work at