Kayleigh Nelson – Portland, Oregon

"1995"  Multimedia Installation

Multimedia Installation

Briefly describe the work you do.

With familiar household items and materials often discarded I create installations and performances that isolate everyday sounds, gestures, and images to investigate how different languages and symbolism are created in relationships.

Tell us a little about your background and how that influences you as an artist.

I think what most influences my work are the fears and idiosyncrasies I have developed or repressed since childhood. These are the things I am interested in uncovering and exploring in my art practice.

The concept of the “artist studio” has a broad range of meanings, especially in contemporary practice. The idea of the artist toiling away alone in a room may not necessarily reflect what many artists do from day to day anymore. Describe your studio practice and how it differs from (or is the same as) traditional notions of “being in the studio.”

When I create a piece I spend 90% ‘concept building’ and the other 10% actually making work, what that means is I don’t sit in my studio sewing and sculpting and dancing away, but most of it sitting and reading and researching on the internet. Most of the time the movements are developed from the unconscious movements I do day to day.

"Convergence" installation


What unique roles do you see yourself as the artist playing that you may not have envisioned yourself in when you first started making art?

I did not expect to be interested in curation when I first started doing art, but this role has greatly developed over the years as a key component of my art practice.

"From Which You Came" Performative Installation

“From Which You Came”
Performative Installation

When do you find is the best time of day to make art? Do you have time set aside every day, every week or do you just work whenever you can? 

A lot of my work comes from things I do, see and experience everyday so in that sense I am always at work. I am always thinking about my art practice but rarely am I sitting down crafting or creating physical pieces.

How has your work changed in the last five years? How is it the same?

I have moved from being completely sculpture based to installation to having a more performative practice, where most of my sculptures act merely as props. One thing I have kept though is my interest in what we use as safe spaces, why we need them and what happens when those are compromised.

Are there people such as family, friends, writers, philosophers or even pop icons that have had an impact on the work you do?

My partner Bobby Eversmann is a key element in my art practice. He is the first one I go to when creating a new concept or confronting problems. My most recent BFA thesis exhibition, Human Noise, was influenced by Do Ho Suh’s intricate fabric homes, e.e. cumming’s concrete poetry, Raymond Carver’s What We Talk About When We Talk About Love, my old living spaces, and Kaneto Shindo’s Kuroneko. As you can see, my projects are inspired by a variety of sources, many seemingly unrelated.

If you had an occupation outside of being an artist, what would that be and why?

I am, and want to continue on being a curator. I think this is different than being an ‘artist’ but also very much the same in ways. I run an alternative space called composition (compositiongallery.tumblr.com) out of my live/work loft in Chinatown in Portland, OR. and before this hosted shows out of the BFA studios at Portland State University. I have noticed more and more studio artists becoming curators, negating the old maxim of curators needing to be art historians. I am interested in making connections and helping out other artists by having them as well as creating shows based on what I think needs to be in the art scene.

knel headshotAbout 

Kayleigh Nelson is an artist and curator from the Bay Area, living in Portland, OR. With a BFA from Portland State University, Nelson has exhibited and performed at numerous galleries and spaces throughout the Pacific Northwest and was recently invited to perform at Yellowfish Epic Durational Performance Festival in Seattle, WA. Nelson works as the visual curatorial intern at Portland Institute for Contemporary Art (PICA) and is the director and curator at composition gallery in Portland, OR.

knel in studio

In the Studio


All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission. 

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