Interview with Kelly Pope

Posted by on Dec 30, 2008 in Interviews

Kelly Pope on Flickr, here.

5:18pm Byron

So Kelly. I’m wondering having recently graduated from Douglas Anderson Schools of the Arts, and then immediately going right back into an art school at School of the Art Institute of Chicago, you might be feeling a little burnout. Has that happened?

Maybe not the best intro question but I have nothing planned out.


almost. it seems like the studio artist part of me really wants to take a long nap, while the other parts of me interested in other things are waking up



do you have any specific reason that you think this might be happening to you, or is it just too much.


well, i think after going from 3 years with lavilla and straight into 4 years at douglas anderson and then straight into a very conceptual art school, i’m well-trained but a little tired


yeah, I could see that happening to you.

What do you think of SAIC and Chicago so far?

Do they have you doing a lot of reading?


the school is just amazing. and Chicago is fantastic


What do you think of the skill level, conceptual thinking of your class mates so far. Are you impressed? You were sort of the top dog I thought at Douglas Anderson. Do you feel that way at SAIC or are you surrounded by folks you feel are more your equals.


for the English class yes, but for maybe just one or two classes so far I’ve had something to read for about every other class


Have you been humbled? Not that you weren’t or needed it, but sometimes it happens and it’s nice.


i feel like one of the top, if anything. there are a lot of people who only took one or two art classes in their last years of high school, a lot of people who haven’t had any art history


Okay, so how do you react to those students with little art background. And how have the professors reacted to you after they realize the extent of your art education?


i might be humbled by the workload and by time management issues. some people seem to be better at it than i am. but i try pretty hard to schedule myself

the professors expect more from me, and i know they expect more, so there’s some pressure there


Have you found the professor yet, that you think you’ll be able to work with closely. There always seem to be 1 or 2 professors that you can find a kinship with. For me at least that was the experience. I found 1.


as for the students who don’t have the 7 years preparation, i don’t know, it’s like how you react to people who are accountants or whatever. they don’t know who Richard Serra is, or who Kiki Smith is, but they know low-brow artists. i just try not to be a snob about it.


how is that working for you so far, the not trying to be a snob? have you been able to hold your tongue pretty well so far?


i have one teacher i like a whole lot, and she has connections all over Chicago. really interesting people.


Does she have a web site?


one time i let it slip. i didn’t get mad, but i was kind of sarcastic. but in class I’ll volunteer the names i know and just try to be constructive.

i don’t think she does.


What is her name if someone wanted to wildly google her?


lora lode




that’s lo-dee for pronunciation


So do they have you working on your own projects or is it all assignment based so far.

How many semesters in are you now?


well, an assignment might be, make a woodcut. or, make a video around the 3-minute mark about transformation or metamorphosis.


work is expected to be based on the assignment, but you can get as conceptual as you want with it


so loose projects that allow you to have some room to make it your own. that’s great.


i’ll be going into my second semester, but they had us taking 16.5 credits first semester

yeah, it’s really not rigid at all


wow. that’s a huge work load. for a first semester.

Do you have studio space?


for my print media final, i just had to make a series of at least three new images and a non-traditional print

there’s a community studio space on the 17th floor of my dorm

and there’s three rooms you can use, two of which are huge


And you have access to all the digital media tools under the sun I’m sure.

Have you gotten into digital media much yet?


you do have to get clearance for most anything, but once you’re cleared you’re good


I saw your snail video installation.

So yeah, what types of projects did you make this semester?


i’ve been using final cut pro for a few things. that was done pretty much entirely in photoshop


Are you working on a theme with them?


i’ve been trying some different things. my series of prints were like southern gothic literature but in a visual form (not based directly on stories)


Do you have them online somewhere?


and i’ve been working with snails a lot.

i only have my first print made at school on there and a link to a flickr hidden on the second page

i haven’t been documenting like i should have been

i’ve been doing a lot with science and art. after working with Linda Broadfoot, who is a registered OR nurse (and is probably getting off work soon), my interest in science and nature was really piqued


What do you mean working with science and nature?

How are you putting them together?

Or are they separate bodies of work.

How did you work with Linda Broadfoot?



for my foundation class (they call it core here), i mostly used materials i found at a science surplus store. a lot of bottles and jars and everything pinned to the walls, using imagery from another students video of a house fly’s death


and a project I’m working on outside of school, one that is more the civic project, is more botanical and eco-asctivist in nature


What was the reaction to that project from your class mates?


working with Linda was just awesome. we have strikingly similar personalities and interests

well. none of us had slept and it was the first to be critiqued. but i went really experimental (the assignment was to make experimental drawings) with the media

and I’m not sure if they fully grasped how I interpreted the meaning of drawing


So you were drawing with objects?

Making lines with your objects collaged on the wall?

Or a design?

What did you do with Linda? What type of work did she have you doing?


i was drawing with fibers and lenses and bottles and petri dishes and ink…it was weird. and i abstracted most of my source imagery. i think the classmates wanted more traditional drawings, but the teacher and TA seemed really receptive of my experiments


Did you learn any processes with her?

Well that’s great, since it is a highly conceptual school, I would think they’d love to see that type of work in the core classes.


well, at the time, it was a lot of work prepping her studio and working on details for her book, insecta. folding pockets out of silk organza. i also helped with her green house, which she’ll be using for her photography


Have you stayed in touch with her?


I’m working my ass off at school. i don’t want to be turning in half-assed work

yes, we’re still in touch.


Well, that’s great. Really glad to see you are wowing them in Chicago. I knew you would be. What are your plans for Art School there? Do you plan on getting your B.F.A.?


Do you see yourself maybe going for your M.F.A. or can you see yourself getting burnt out before then?


i might be changing majors, but still staying with the school. they offer a bachelor’s and a master’s in what they call visual and critical studies. it’s kind of hard to explain at first, but it requires more humanities, social, and natural science than a BFA, and puts less emphasis on studio work.

the goal of VCS is to examine art and cultural phenomenon all over the world and see how everything connects


That would be perfect for you. You have the studio practice down already I think.

Most Studio art programs, try to instill hard work in the studio as a virtue for an artist, and for artists who don’t need someone telling them to work, it’s a waste I think.


but then it might come to the point where i just want a class where all we do is draw from life–ha!


it’s pretty much you get what you put into it. i’d assume it’s like that anywhere, though


Yeah, it is. I’m sure of it.

Has to be.

But studio art programs are sort of made to push artists into a very rigid studio practice, and for artists who don’t need that pushing it’s kind of a waste I think. Your other program sounds perfect for you.

Have you gone to any Chicago galleries? Are you becoming a part of the art scene or is it too hard with your work load?


the way i see it, i’d lose my mind if one or two science classes was all i had to take in four years.


interesting. had no idea you were so interested in science. science and art are very connected. I’d love to see you make those connections in your work.


i’ve been to the MCA a couple of times. i walk through the Art Institute to get to some of my classes, and sometimes I poke around in what’s new there. I’m a pretty bogged down with work, so much that I avoid going out to eat because I need the time


Then I would think you have avoided the dreaded freshman fifteen. no keg parties for you I would think. Or late night pizza parties.

Not that you couldn’t gain fifteen and we wouldn’t still love you 🙂:)


definitely none of those. there’s been plenty of nights when all I’ve done is work in the studio spaces. mostly for the wifi, which, by the way, i need to be connected to the school’s internet provider to use all the purchased programs on my computer (like adobe products)

hah, i’ll probably gain 15 from the stress


good on you. you are being wise with your time there.

I didn’t wake up till my Junior year.




And my work was still trippy biomorphic shapes of sillyness.

Everyone progresses on their own timeline.


a lot of people seem to be that way, though. they get to college and think they can do whatever they want now, but no one’s telling them when they should do what they need to do, so they don’t do it


You’re way ahead of the game.


different strokes for different folks

i try



I did but with a beer in one hand and a book in the other.


but you didn’t lose your fine motor skills, be thankful


So any words of advice for folks going into a very large art school or for folks trying to pick an art school to attend?

Yeah. I’m alive. I’ve dodged many a bullet so far.


don’t put off buying materials. remember you are an animal–so sleep and eat as regularly as possible. trust your gut in your choices



  1. markcreegan
    December 31, 2008

    Yes Very good! We is very proud! Kelly is going places i guarantee!

    Kelly, see if you can meet those Bad At Sports folks. I think one of them teaches at SAIC.

  2. kelly
    January 5, 2009

    Nevermind about Lora Lode not having a website. I just found this.

  3. |
    January 18, 2009

    […] Post by Kelly Pope. […]


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