Susan Kelley: A Collage of Kindness

Creating from the heart and for the heart, artist Susan Kelley finds inspiration in kindness. When she first began making her collage pieces, she was looking for an outlet to relieve stress; a way to slow down and busy her mind from the reality of helping her mother cope with dementia. Through this art, she found a mode of expression for the feelings and experiences she didn't have words for. As she created each piece, she shared it with her mom, Dorothy, and when she saw the joy it brought she continued to create and share. This art therapy grew into a love of creating for the sake of creating. Susan describes her mom as being the embodiment of kindness; a quality she possesses as well.

A fine-art collage by artist Susan Kelley
Susan's mother, Dorothy, was a woman filled with kindness and joy.

When Susan talks about her art her eyes light up, her face softens with love, and her stories flow like like a spring stream. Her art serves as a way for her to share kindness and to experience joy. A few years ago she had the opportunity to operate her own shop selling her art, and she enjoyed it, but felt there was something missing. She realized that trading her heart for profit was not what it was about for her. She missed her career as an ER nurse, and realized that she was destined to make, give, and care. Nursing allows Susan to care for others who are in need. Creating her art is a way to balance the busy, stressful environment of the Emergency Room, and giving her art away to people who will cherish it allows her to find a personal connection that she wasn't feeling from directly selling. When patrons insist on payment, Susan asks them to donate to the animal shelter or to their charity of choice.

Often, the recipients of Susan's work do not even know who the artist is; because, like a fairy dropping bits of magic in her wake, she leaves treasures for people to find all over the world. In Southampton, England, she once left a piece of art in a cafe on her way to a Bob Dylan concert. As she walked past the cafe after the concert's end, she saw that they had hung it in the window.

Bob Dylan sings into a microphone as part of a collage piece.
Bob Dylan Artwork by Susan Kelley

That was not her first Bob Dylan concert; in fact, she has been to more than 300 of his shows. She discovered Bob Dylan when she was 12 years old and was mesmerized from the start. She likes his creative relationship with words and poetic lyrics, and she appreciates his unique voice and singing style and, she says, his artwork.

Susan's art has been featured in several exhibits, including the Rochester Contemporary Art Center 6x6 Art Show. She will be exhibiting again this year for this "International Small Art Phenomenon" from June 1, 2019-July 14, 2019. Other collections she has participated in include Mail Art WorldWide and the Brooklyn Art Library Sketch Project, which recently featured her work in their publication. She is also a member of the Hornell Arts Council and has had a local exhibit at Steuben Trust Bank in Hornell. They highlighted her Bob Dylan piece in the exhibit, "Creating Dreamscapes."

Newspaper Clipping of Susan Kelley's Exhibit

Susan's art is timeless, yet contemporary. Her choice of bold colors and calm florals gives the viewer a feeling of hope. Looking at Susan's art, you can feel that there is good in the world. It is woven through people like Susan by their mothers and their friends, by the places and people from which they draw inspiration. It is woven from them into the communities they share with and the people who's lives they improve. Susan Kelley is an artist whose heart is kind and honest enough to feel and express, while also being large and full enough to be brave in it's openness. Susan Kelley is Living Poetree.