School of art

School Notes: School of Art
November/December 2016

Marta Kuzma |

Alumna receives “genius grant”

Mary Reid Kelley ’09MFA (painting) is a recipient of a 2016 MacArthur Fellowship. She is one of 23 people named this year to receive the award—also known as the “genius grant”—from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

Reid Kelley employs the power of wit, language, and an increasingly deft hand to construct complex narratives that shine a light on marginalized women and gender inequality throughout history. For some works she draws on extensive historical research; for others she taps myth and poetry. Reid Kelley applied to Yale with an investigation of her upbringing in the south, using tightly rendered graphite drawings and paintings of characters in the Civil War era. At Yale, she could often be found around the university creating text rubbings or leaving the Beinecke library. When she received a Schoelkopf travel award after her first year, she used it to visit the graves of Yale’s World War I soldiers in France and make graphite rubbings of their tombstones. Upon her return she began making stop-motion text-based animations in her studio with small plaster letters, but quickly moved to the live action video she continues to make. 

Reflecting on her time at Yale, Mary wrote: “Yale was both tough and warm. I still look at my notebooks from those years to see if there are any books or films that someone (as likely to be a peer as faculty) told me about, that I haven’t looked at yet. There are still many threads to follow from my time there, and it shows how rich a community it is—treasure in the studio next door, in the next studio visit, in the undergrad class you attend on a whim, in the relationships that make you a better person and a better artist.”

The comment period has expired.