Kelsie Ward is from a small town in central Minnesota. She received her Bachelor of Art in Economics and Psychology with a minor in Art from the College of Saint Benedict and St. John’s University in 2012 and her Master of Fine Art from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville in 2016. Working in sculpture and installation, her work explores shifts between dimensional space, the relationship between the natural and the synthetic, awareness of self, and repetition.
My works simultaneously engage and reference natural forms and the increased artificiality of the nature we experience in our lives. They are comprised of synthetic rock and glacier formations organized as immersive environments. The contradictory appearance and materials of these structured environments present forms that are familiar yet dislocated from the natural world. I am interested in the relationship between the viewer and the object, and whether these interactions are intimate or public. Navigation through these forms provides an individual journey and feelings of isolation and time for self-reflection. Shifts within dimensional space and scale are utilized to heighten the viewer’s awareness of their body as it fits within a space.
The importance of nature to my process manifests in two ways: inspiration and time for reflection. I connect with nature and identify with place through it, especially while traveling. My most inspiring and memorable recollections of place are of the vast differences in natural terrain, particularly of rock and glacier structures. I continually gather images of natural landscapes containing, rocks, ice, and water in differing weather conditions to inspire the texture and form of my fabricated environments. These images and memories invoke the way I felt while being present within those places, providing me with a sense of ease and relaxation. Investigating these natural phenomena first-hand offers information on sensory, emotional, and spatial levels that photographs cannot. The opportunity to tangibly experience diverse places affords crucial knowledge to multiple aspects of my work. Nature is a spectacle and is more complex and unpredictable than anything manmade. Consequently, a deep understanding of nature is both an experiential and intellectual one.
The works are constructed by piecing together triangular fragments of varying synthetic materials, in a repetitive and obsessive manner, establishing the means to solve a puzzle with endless possible outcomes. The triangle has deep-rooted meaning in many religions and cultures and can be considered a balanced, divine form. Yet I am most drawn to the triangle because of its ability to break down nearly all forms and its reference to math and problem solving. The triangle is a symbol of stability and strength as are the rock and glacial forms that I create.
We have become an increasingly technological society, and through generations our connectedness to nature has seemingly diminished. Psychological research within the field of nature connectedness, which is the degree that individuals incorporate nature as part of their identity, indicates that connectedness to nature is important for psychological wellbeing. I promote a dialogue between the natural and the synthetic; I want my viewers to consider what nature really is and what nature is not at an individual level, by displacing and presenting artificially constructed, natural forms indoors.