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About the Photographer
American, b. 1974
A single model plays two roles in each of the photographs in this portfolio from Kelli Connell. Connell uses elements of private relationships she has experienced herself or witnessed in others to inspire these two-person scenes. She then uses Photoshop to stitch multiple medium-format negatives together to create the juxtapositions in the final photographs. The result is a multi-faceted questioning of duality: of masculine and feminine, exterior and interior, static and evolving. Appropriately, Connell's intentions here are two-fold. One the one hand she exposes her autobiographical questioning of sexuality and gender roles, particularly as they influence identity in relationships. On the other hand she is also interested in how the response of viewers reveals their own notions of identity and social constructs.
In her latest ongoing series, "Pictures for Charis," Kelli Connell examines the notion of a muse and the photographer-to-sitter relationship, particularly when photographers depict their spouses or partners in long-term projects. In a heavily research-based pursuit, Connell unpacks iconic images by Edward Weston of his wife, Charis Wilson, made in the 1930s. Connell retraced Weston and Wilson’s steps, traveling throughout the western US landscape and recreating and interpreting the images, using her own wife, Betsy, as her model. Through the use of text and image, the artist simultaneously pays homage to the underrecognized creative force and role of Charis in Weston’s successes, while also addressing questions surrounding the agency, power, and influence of the model in a photographer’s gaze.
Kelli Connell received a BFA in photography from University of North Texas (1997) and an MFA in photography from Texas Woman's University (2003), both in Denton, Texas. Her work is held in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, J Paul Getty Museum, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Columbus Museum of Art, Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Dallas Museum of Art, and Milwaukee Art Museum, among many others. She has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, MacDowell, PLAYA, Peaked Hill Trust, LATITUDE, Light Work, and the Center for Creative Photography.