Endowed in perpetuity by the Glenna Luschei Fund for Excellence

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Kelly Manning

Artist Bio

Kelly Manning

Kelly Manning received her MFA from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where she was a Hixon-Lied fellow and recipient of the Vreeland award. Her exhibition record includes the multi-national juried North American Graduate Art Survey at the University of Minnesota. She taught at Hastings College and currently resides in Lexington as a working artist.

Merge (Art, Oil on cavas, 12 x 12in)Openings (Art, Oil on canvas, 12 x 12 in.)Breathe (Art, Oil on panel, 16 x 20in)
Side View No. 2 (Art, Oil on panel, 24 x 30 in.) Side View (Oil on canvas, 24 x 29 in.)

Water is our first environment, our first home. In the womb, we exist in a watery world of amniotic fluid, ‘breathing’ this liquid into our lungs, and being suspended in its nurturing and protective environment. In a sense we return to the watery setting of the womb every day in the simple act of bathing. This is a ritual our culture performs on a regular basis, very soon after we leave the womb until the end of our days. Every day we cleanse ourselves of impurities, everyday renewed. Many religions have sacred practices centered on the act of bathing, perhaps subtly recalling our primordial watery existence.

My paintings are a meditation on the bathing ritual, focusing on the interactions between bather and water. The bather can either affect the water through active movement, therefore visually distorting his or her body in the process, or being a passive entity onto which the water falls. In this way, I consider these paintings to be a metaphor of our actions in life—whether intentional or not, our actions and decisions affect our reality which in turn affects us, this cycle occurring continuously from birth until death.

Openings: This is a series of paintings that I have cropped fragments of the body, each painting revealing a visual opening of some sort. My intention was for this artwork to exemplify the female principle, of embodying space—the passive that is so necessary for the active to manifest. In each image, the water, the active force, shifts and distorts in a variety of formations onto the female form, with some images containing only the most subtle hint of water.

Merge: This is another series that I have cropped fragments of the human form, this time both male and female. The panels interact both vertically and horizontally with one another. The right side shows the active force, the male, causing water distortion actively through picking up the water and blowing it with his nose. The left side shows the passive force, the female, causing water distortion through simply her presence, the active source being something beyond her, the shower nozzle. I meant the horizontal relationships to be a merger of the masculine and feminine: the top two images represent the water source, the middle images signify the water penetration, and the bottom images express the climax of the splash.

Breathe: This painting shows the bather totally immersed and struggling within the water. To completely surrender to the water would mean death. This inability to breathe in the water, our primordial environment, conveys the change, the inevitable aging and growing that is the human condition.

Side View and Side View No. 2: I choose these two images because the female torso is both sensually arousing and life-producing in its construction. The spraying water from the shower above creates a multitude of watery distortions within the flesh of the torsos, implying forces that act upon the feminine principle. I strove to portray the many layers of flesh, the depth that lies beyond its somewhat translucent surface, implying both the outer physical sensual form and the inner reality of the body itself, with the millions of processes occurring beyond conscious awareness.