Kelly Slater is an artist that I have known for a number of years, mostly from my years at Atlantic Works Gallery in East Boston, when our memberships overlapped. I have watched Slater’s work go from tender, timid renderings to powerful, contrasted, energetic and unselfconscious telepathic conversations with trees and wooded environments. When I asked her what contributed to her outburst of confidence, she stated that over time she had connected to a vortex of inner awakenings, spawned by honing her skills and interacting with a greater artistic collective community.
Community came in the form of studying printmaking with Selma Bromberg at the Center for Adult Education in Cambridge, Massachusetts. There, Slater was encouraged to explore and experiment. Within our conversation, it occurred to me that she opened to the intensity of the natural world, strangely, by abandoning it initially in her printmaking. Then, returning to the forms of nature became enhanced for her by exploring their abstraction.
In addition to her art practice, Slater has a B.S. in Botany from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She spent much time working on conservation efforts and endangered species programs at the Native Plant Trust. She eventually left and started her own organic gardening business and to this day maintains gardens for many clients. It is this additional dimension to her experience that opened the door to her 2017 residency at Mount Greylock State Reservation focusing on woodlands and tree groupings in these extensive Berkshire forests. In addition to the Mount Greylock residency, Slater received a Sustaining Practice Grant from the Collective Futures Fund in 2022. She is utilizing and projecting a multi-year project studying and teaching of the life of old growth trees in Massachusetts.
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