Kelli Scott Kelley was born in Baton Rouge, LA. She earned an MFA from University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Her work is primarily comprised of mixed -media narrative paintings, drawings and objects. She has also collaborated with her husband, composer Bill Kelley, on surreal performances and video pieces.

Kelley has exhibited and lectured throughout the United States, and beyond, including: The Ogden Museum of Southern Art in New Orleans, Galerie Califi at ArtMill Center for SustainableCreativityinMirenice, Czech Republic, Bangalore University in Bangalore, India, the Contemporary Arts Museum in Houston, and Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art in Boulder, CO. Her work is represented by Koelsch Gallery in Houston, Soren Christensen Gallery in New Orleans, and Baton Rouge Gallery Center for Contemporary Art.

Kelley authored a book featuring her narrative artwork entitled Accalia and the Swamp Monster in 2014. A solo exhibit of the work opened in at the LSU Museum of art and then traveled to Bradbury Museum of Art, the Jung Center Gallery in Houston, the Masur Museum of Art and the Michelson Art Museum. Her work is featured in the permanent collections of the LSU Museum of Art, Tyler Museum of Art, East Baton Rouge Parish Library Special Collections and The Eugenia Summer Gallery Mississippi University for Women.

Kelli Scott Kelley is a Professor of Painting in the School of Art at Louisiana State University.






Kelley is clearly an active participant in the tradition of myth making and appropriating archetypal tropes. The clarity of Kelley’s message is important in a culture, legally, politically, and otherwise, that enables actors to hide their true intentions. At the heart of them, each of Kelley’s works are parables, a means of communicating a moral lesson. Kelley’s work is decidedly feminine. Not only is the heroine is often based on Kelley herself, but her paintings are executed on re-purposed antique linens, handcrafts historically associated with women and domesticity.

Kelley’s work feels archetypal, as though we are familiar with its narrative arc and imagery. This is the case because, as a society, we know enough about Beowulf, Artemis, anthropomorphic creatures, Joan of Arc, and other references to intuitively understand Kelley’s various nods to bygone eras. She incorporates a sense of calm repose into her characters, lending them a timeless, classical quality. It is important to say that Kelley’s singular images create meaning on a deeply personal level, but also use art history as a creative foil. This is so because she can co-opt known conventions to ensure her intentions are understood. Elements of Hieronymus Bosch, Giotto, Paula Rego, and Maria de los Remedios Varo Uranga’s work often serve as inspiration.

Kelli Scott Kelley’s work creates a clear worldview, identifies a variety of actors, and asserts her moral authority. Hopefully her artwork’sequal measures of timeliness and timelessness enable Kelley’s work to occupy its rightful place in America’s imagination and visual culture.


Artist Statement

Through personal and universal icons my work explores multiple states of reality. Figures, animals, and objects appear in metaphorical narratives, which explore humankind’s connections, disconnections and impact upon the natural world.

In recent years, I have been painting on antique domestic linens. The textiles reference traditional women’s handicrafts, and an ecologically conscious art making practice. In addition, the pretty feminine cloths serve to juxtapose the sometimes-dark imagery.

Lately, I have become curious about monsters and their myriad metaphorical meanings. Monsters are perceived to be powerful, frightening and evil; thought of as physically or psychologically gruesome freaks of nature. I am interested in the concept of “Monster” in the context of contemporary real-life horrors. “Monster” as a metaphor for environmental degradation, and as an allegorical symbol for terrorism or war. Powerful “Monsters”, such as the global oil industry, the greed of the 1%, and the new US administration threaten to consume us. Godzilla came into being in Japan in 1954 as a metaphor for World War II, the atomic bomb and the United States. Our pop culture fascination with monsters, especially vampires and zombies, may be a reflection of our fears about the current state of our world.