Kelsey is a ceramicist working in porcelain. She joined RWS in April 2021. Kelsey is currently completing her master’s degree at the Cardiff School of Art and Design in the UK. Her dissertation has taken shape in response to people asking questions about her work. She wanted them to ask more questions, so she has been studying how to provoke curiosity in her viewers. For her dissertation, Kelsey is researching the neuroscience and psychology behind curiosity, learning about how the brain works in order to make someone curious in a meaningful way. “Art is universal, and especially clay being almost a necessity for every developing culture.” Everybody needs something to put their food in, and anyone can look at a piece of art and get something from it. Through her work, she is trying to get people to ask questions without providing the answers. Curiosity is an intrinsically human trait. The definition of curiosity is a sense of deprivation caused by the perception of a gap in knowledge. (George Lowenstein, 1994.) The things that make Kelsey curious include fossils and old pieces of industry, objects that are narrative or look like they have a story. The link between these found objects is that they can provoke questions in an art specific way. “If you found an odd piece of metal or a partial bit of equipment, it’s clear that it came from something,” the object had a job, but you don’t really know what and you may never find the answer. You are left with this object and your curiosity. Bones evoke curiosity in a similar way for Kelsey. She has a three-piece collection that she found and has no idea what animal they came from. Kelsey likes that bones leave space for mystery; they are objects that ask you to create stories around them. “The more information I give [the viewer] the less they can do that in a genuine or unbiased way.” Over-explaining removes that mystery. If Kelsey could have created any piece of art that already exists it would be the Winged Victory of Samothrace. “It’s beautiful, it’s really compelling, it’s a powerful woman....And it’s graceful. It definitely has a story.” She also appreciates how it’s a solid object that has been made in a way that appears light and with movement. The details of the sculpture’s context and origin are notably speculative.
Her current work uses the familiarity of realism to draw people in and introduce them to something that may or may not be real. For example, she made a piece that depicts a fireplace with a mantel and an image above it of a person standing in the woods ("Scorched", pictured above). In the fireplace, instead of the logs being laid like a built-fire, the logs are completely vertical and are modeled after a burnt forest. The entire back of the piece looks like charred wood. So it’s familiar in that the objects are identifiable but it has that one piece that makes you think, like an invitation to fill the gap in your knowledge. Curious about Kelsey’s work? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her website, kelseyweberceramics.wordpress.com/.