Kelli Scott Kelley Awarded Provost’s Fund for Innovation in Research Grant

Kelli by Japanese temple red columns

Professor Kelli Scott Kelley in Japan.

Professor of Art Kelli Scott Kelley received an Emerging Research Faculty Grant from the LSU Provost’s Fund for Innovation in Research to support her interdisciplinary research pursuing a visual art project “on emptiness, or nothingness, as a contemplation on the connections and interdependence of all beings and things during a time of isolation, divisiveness and impending demise of the natural world.”

“In my work, subconscious worlds, populated by hybrid beings, are woven into dreamlike tales. Figures, animals, and objects appear in metaphorical narratives which explore humankind’s connections to, disconnections from, and impact upon the natural world,” Kelley said. “The working title for my ongoing body of work is ‘Emptiness,’ which could refer to a nihilistic idea of nothingness. It could also refer to the complex Buddhist concept of Emptiness, the idea of ‘no independent self.’”

“I employ painting and drawing mediums, along with repurposed emblematic materials. The pieces are inspired by the personal, psychological and the sociopolitical,” she said. “I am moved by the exquisite beauty in the world, as well as the absurdity and ugliness. I feel an urgency to use my art practice as a means to mine and express deep truths about the impending demise of the natural world.”

With the LSU Provost’s Fund, Kelley was able to travel throughout Japan for 5 weeks to conduct research and find inspiration. While in Japan, she studied traditional, as well as modern and contemporary Japanese art.

“In addition to traveling, I dove deeply into my art practice in my Baton Rouge art studio; exploring with materials and techniques, concepts and imagery,” she said. “The opportunities offered by the research funding endures, and will have a lasting impact, as I continue to process and absorb the information and insights afforded by the Provost’s Emerging Research Faculty Grant.”

Kelley has been a professor of art/painting & drawing at the LSU School of Art for 23 years. Her paintings have been exhibited in many venues including the Mesic Ve Dne Gallerie in Czeske Budejovice, Czech Republic; Bangalore University in India; the Contemporary Arts Museum and the Hooks-Epstein Gallery in Houston, Texas; the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art in Colorado; the Taylor Bercier Gallery in New Orleans, Louisiana; the LSU Museum of Art and the Baton Rouge Gallery Center for Contemporary Art. Her recent sabbatical allowed for a new solo exhibition at Spillman Blackwell Gallery in New Orleans in March 2023.

The LSU Provost’s Fund for Innovation in Research announced $1.1 million in faculty research grants to 33 projects, including several spanning multiple priority areas, in support of sustained strategic priorities for the university and for Louisiana. Launched in 2022, the Provost’s Fund supports interdisciplinary research in five priority areas, also known as the LSU Pentagon, which includes agriculture, biomedicine and biotechnology, coast and environment, defense and cybersecurity and energy.

Fellow College of Art & Design faculty members receiving Provost’s Fund grants include Jason Jamerson, assistant professor of digital art & theatre, assistant professor of architecture Soo Jeong Jo, and assistant professor of architecture Fabio Capra-Ribeiro, who was awarded to create the Caribbean Spatial Justice Lab, a transdisciplinary collaborative center for research and design to connect scholars and communities working to advance coastal protection and restoration as well as sustainable energy and food production. Read more.