Tonight and Saturday night, McNeese State University visual arts professor Heather Ryan Kelley will be profiled on the season seven premiere of Louisiana Public Broadcasting's "Art Rocks" program, a weekly showcase of visual and performing arts hosted by "Country Roads" magazine publisher James Fox-Smith.

The show will air at 8:30 p.m. tonight and 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 21.

Artist Bill Iles, a former McNeese State University visual arts department head, suggested a segment on Kelley to "Art Rocks" producers.

After contacting Kelley by email, a crew from LPB visited her studio over the summer to interview and film her and her work.

Much of Kelley's paintings, prints, collages and art books are inspired by the literary works of James Joyce (1882-1941), author of "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man," "Ulysses" and "Finnegans Wake." Like Joyce, Kelley is drawn to objects and detail.

"The connection between still life subject matter and the writing of James Joyce lies in his meticulous descriptions of commonplace objects," reads Kelley's artist's statement.

Kelley does with visual imagery what Joyce does with words. She has developed a vocabulary of symbolic images in her work, and everyday objects are portrayed in intricate detail.

When the LPB crew visited Kelley, they met in her home studio, in what should be the dining room.

"They asked me what I was working on," said Kelley. "We talked about my painting, 'Augur.' They photographed that. They asked about my James Joyce work and Vanitas series."

"Augur" is a circular painting of a collection of rocks and symbolic images, while her "Lacunas and Vanities" series incorporates traditional vanitas symbols—items that reflect the brevity of life—juxtaposed by lacunas, unfilled dark spaces that invite contemplation.

Kelley, has worked at McNeese for the past 35 years, where she is currently teaching painting, a book art class and a senior seminar in professional practices, which deals with how to promote and share one's art.

She has not yet seen the finished "Art Rocks" segment that will air tonight. And she won't see it tonight or tomorrow either. Kelley will be on an out-of-state, art-related trip. Her husband, Greg Stratton, promised to record the show for her.


Online: heatherryankelley.com, lpb.org/artrocks.

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