Artist Kelly Keifer is exhibiting in The Colours of Mothering, at The Diamond Shop Gallery, opening June 2 (Full Disclosure: I am exhibiting my work alongside hers). She shares with Zackquill about how she came to painting via Adventure WV, the series she’ll be presenting in the show, why she loves being an artist in Morgantown and more.

Z: How did you end up in West Virginia?

K: My father’s family lived in Edenborn, around Uniontown, PA. His family were coal miners. After my grandfather was killed in a coal mine, my Nana remarried. Then, they both moved to Morgantown. When they both were getting older, we moved them down to Florida to take care of them. My sister came up to sell their house. I joined her for a summer and never left.

Z: How did you come to be an artist? 

K: I used to draw pictures for friends and family. Feel in love with color and, in turn, spent a lot of time watching how light and color would play outside together. I went to the CAC for the Creative Arts program and ended up getting my BA in Art History. Worked with non-profits for 20 some years because I loved my community and I could write grants. Ended up at WVU in a full-time position at Adventure WV and went back to school at the CAC in their painting program (33 hours). I ended up at the gallery. I just love to paint.

Kelly Keifer: Weekend at Tia Lauri’s, oil on canvas, 2017.

Z: How did this exhibition come about? Why is this important for the Morgantown community?

K: On a personal level, I have some friends and family who just lost their mothers. I wanted to give them some type of gift to remember and keep close the spirits of their mothers. I think remembering and keeping those who have past close to us is a healthy thing to do. It is my belief, their bodies have left, but their love and spirit are always with us and surround us with light and color.

Z: How do you think the environment is for the arts in Morgantown? How do you think it could improve?

K: I think it is growing, but I would like to see us reach out to other communities to develop a more global relationship with them. It would be great if we could become some type of mecca for artists to come visit & share work/ideas. Look how beautiful this state is!

Z: What is your favorite thing about being an artist/creative in Morgantown? 

K: Great people, friends, and my daughter was born here. She loves it here.

Z: Any advice for young artists in the area?

K: Don’t be afraid to show your work and look for opportunities to do so.

Z: What would people be surprised to know about you?

K: I used to box in the area. Only had one official fight and lost. Trained with Jim March in the early 90’s.

Z: Anything to add?

K: Just to remember we live in one incredibly, beautiful world. Don’t forget to enjoy it.

The Colours of Mothering, opens Friday, June 2, 6-9pm at The Diamond Shop Gallery, 320 High Street, and is on view thru June 26. More information visit facebook.com/diamondshopart. For more info on Kelly visit kellykeifer.com.

Sally Deskins is an artist, writer and curator. She currently serves as Exhibits & Programs Coordinator with West Virginia University Libraries. Contact her at sallydeskins@yahoo.com.