b. 1980. From Barre, Massachusetts. Living and working in Lexington, KY.


Forest Kelley is an Assistant Professor in the School of Art and Visual Studies in Lexington, KY. His work reflects on introspective histories and systems/contexts that perpetuate social isolation. He aims to cultivate relationships, investigate lived experiences, and restore agency where it has been eroded. He has shown internationally at galleries including 1708 Gallery (Richmond, VA), Clamp Art (NYC), Filter Space (Chicago), Photo Is:Rael (Tel-Aviv), Rotterdam Photo (Rotterdam), SF Camerawork (San Francisco), and Veddel Space (Hamburg, DE). In 2022, his artist video Supply Air / Return Air screened at venues including Zou-no-hana Terrace (Yokohama, Japan), Bierumer School (Bierum, Netherlands), and Pier2 Artcenter (Kaohsiung, Taiwan). He also released the full-length experimental album Silt on the label ENXPL (Enmossed + Psychic Liberation). He was recognized with the 2020 Imagemaker Award by the Society for Photographic Education. In 2018, he contributed music to the Academy Award-nominated and Criterion Collection-selected documentary Hale County This Morning, This Evening for which he received a Peabody award and the award for Best Music Score from the International Documentary Association.


My work considers how personal psychology lives within a social ecology. It is an endeavor to comprehend events and experiences lost to the past or augmented through oral history and mythmaking. The surface reminds us that an artwork is a stand-in, that representation has limits. Photographs don’t cure amnesia, they attempt to fill in the gaps. It is the process of reenactment, an action of tracing history, that is most vicarious: wearing a sequined dress at the Ruby Red Ball, listening to opera with Greg, developing film in a lab at Castro and 18th, feeling where testicles are situated under a corset, receiving my uncle’s postcard in the mail, dated 1978, that said:

I think I learned a little bit about Eden....
See you in the future,
Love Michael Kelley

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