Born 1979, Greenville, SC
Lives and works in Olivebridge, NY

Mary Reid Kelley’s oeuvre builds complex commentary on females in reimagined historical narratives through the production of highly stylized videos narrated with biting “verbally-inclined” rhyming tetrameter verse. With a heightened visual aesthetic, Reid Kelley engages in pretending through characterizations that are strategic and cunning, and the aesthetic effectively flattens three-dimensional space through conscious and physical rendering of human form. While the sharp imagery is seemingly all “black and white,” Reid Kelley’s world is anything but: although her stories are indeed meant to be humorous (while offering up difficult social context), she successfully muddies the line between comedic and tragic so seamlessly we are afraid to laugh outright. On view is Reid Kelley’s video Sadie the Saddest Sadist (2009), set during WWI and presents the story of Sadie, a self-proclaimed “modern girl” who yearns for, and later leaves, the factory floor for a sailor boy named Jack. The narrative weaves a complicated tale about female labor and the body, both exploited in the name of ideologies and all the while confused for sexual-liberations. Reid Kelley’s video not only presents humor through intelligent word play and entendres (“I know you care by these Marx on my Lenin”), the physical humor of language through written forms and complicated narratives—letters physically come alive to swirl, jump, and reform into new phrases and puns—but through self-reflexive references and jokes that only find completion through a full, stayed viewing.

Mary Reid Kelley completed her MFA at Yale University in 2009. She has been the subject of solo exhibitions at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston; Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art at SUNY New Paltz (travelled), and forthcoming at UCLA Hammer Museum, Los Angeles. Her work has been featured in numerous exhibitions at the Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus; Rose Art Museum, Brandies University; Blanton Museum of Art, University of Texas; Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia: Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven; ZKM Museum of Contemporary Art, Karlsruhe, Germany; and the SITE Santa Fe Eighth International Biennial, Santa Fe. Reid Kelley was featured on the PBS documentary series Art21.She has received numerous awards for her work including the Joseph H. Hazen Rome Prize, the Rema Hort Mann Foundation Grant, and an Alice Kimball English Travel Fellowship. Her work is in the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, Yale University Art Collection, The Zabludowicz Collection, London; The Goetz Collection, Munich; and the UBS Art Collection. Her work is represented by Fredericks & Freiser, New York; Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects; and Pilar Corrias, London.

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