Tappan Collective artist Kelsey Shultis studied at the Academy of Art, Architecture and Design in Prague and received her BFA from the University of Michigan School of Art and Design. Shultis creates large scale, sculptural oil paintings that explore strength through thick texture and aggressive movement. Focused on research, her works chronicle a search for strength that is constantly confused and demeaned by exterior physical agents. Through distorted physical environments and forms, Shultis suggests that a being exists without its physical form, sometimes in spite of its physicality. Aggressive and confrontational, the forms in her work awaken a heightened emotional presence. Her collective works reveal a reverent approach to a complex process of dissection and impulsive reconstruction. Kelsey is currently living and working in Detroit, MI.
How has working in Detroit influenced your work?
Detroit has brought greater honesty and rawness to my work, to the way I approach and relate to my work. Everything feels more real. There is a remarkable authenticity here in structure, in experience and in relationships. It is actuality. This has bled through to my paintings.
Where do you pull most of your inspiration?
Mistakes, I think. Unintentional actions, responses, combinations, sounds, etc.
Did you have breakfast today?
Yes and it was OK.
What is your favorite instrument?
Painting instrument: Oval sash bristle brush. Musical instrument: Harmonica
Tell us about your new studio space?
My studio is in a large industrial complex called the Russell. Kelsey Ann and Little Kels live there. There is a wall made up entirely of windows. One opens. And there is light, a lot of light.
Are you ever scared being a pretty gal in parts of Detroit?
Maybe I would be, but my exterior tends more towards amorphous than pretty. So no, not particularly, I am the same as the rest.
What is your least favorite sound?
What is your favorite ice cream flavor?
What is the one thing you wouldn’t eat?
How do you choose the colors you work with?
Color and most all other decisions of mine are based on feeling. Sometimes the color corresponds to what I am feeling but generally the color corresponds to what the painting is feeling. A balance is necessary between the two, but color must always favor the desires of the painting.
What is your happy place?
In painting. In the place where judgment has departed, where listening is principal, and when the work communicates openly to me where it needs to go.
What gets you out of bed in the morning?
That happy place.
What puts you to sleep at night?
Who is your hero?
Can you recommend a good book?
Yes, of course.
What is your favorite coffee place in Detroit?
The Motor City Casino.
Where is your ideal life?
Who is your favorite artist?
Let’s do top 5: Egon Schiele, Oskar Kokoschka, Allison Schulnik, Folkert de Jong and Cy Twombly.
Why do you make art?
It is the convergence of everything for me. It allows me to make sense of myself and it is, for me, the most accurate means to make sense of the rest. I am most awake here, in painting.
Who is the Good Old Man?
A. Goodman is Andrew Goodman. He was a former slave. I found him a few years ago and felt a curious sense of familiarity with him. He seems to relate with others in a similar way and so he returns and returns.
How much do you love Tappan?
It makes my insides hurt, that’s how much.
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