Kelly and Kyle Phelps
The Narrative Figure| July 14th – 18th, 2014
Kelly and Kyle Phelps will demonstrate a variety of techniques they use to create figurative relief work with an emphasis on storytelling. The twins will share their process from start to finish on how their work is created and discuss how the use of the figure can be the perfect vehicle to talk about topics like but not limited to social/political, environmental issues, race, religion, class, sexuality, gender, poverty, war, and other issues of our time.
Sequential topics that range from initial Idea generation –music, personal interviews, site visits, material meaning, and other related topics that inspires and informs their work will be explained. Formal aspects of armature/relief board construction, composition, scale/proportion, figure sculpting, surface treatment, and final presentation will be revealed.
In this hands on five-day workshop, the twins will create high relief figurative- narratives that will be influenced by their blue-collar working class background.
Identical twin brothers Kelly and Kyle Phelps are Associate Professors at private Catholic universities in Ohio. Kelly Phelps is an Associate Professor/Chair at Xavier University, Cincinnati, where he over sees the sculpture department. Kyle is an Associate Professor at University Dayton, OH, where he is the head of the ceramics department. Much of the twins’ work is about the blue collar working-class, race relations and the everyday struggles of the common man and woman. Both Kelly and Kyle continue to work collaboratively to create their artwork at their studio in Centerville, Ohio. The Phelps twins have conducted workshops at the highly respected Penland School of Craft Arts as well as the Baltimore Clayworks. The twins share numerous grants, regional and national exhibitions, and commissions. More notable private collectors of the twins work are in the hands of film director Michael Moore, and actor Morgan Freeman as well as a major review in the world acclaimed Sculpture Magazine and American Craft Magazine.
Before entering the world of academia, becoming professors, tenure, and most recently sabbatical, the twins experienced firsthand what the struggles of the working class were really about! The twins grew up in a blue-collar/factory environment in Indiana where they were inspired by family members and friends who worked in various manufacturing plants, steel mills, and foundries. These everyday people became working class heroes that has inspired over a decade of working class art.
For a number of years the twins have produced work that incorporates both the hand-crafted (ceramic and resin cast forms) juxtaposed with found objects/site specific objects. Kyle and Kelly have combined gears, corrugated metal and scrap-machined parts along with modeled ceramic/resin cast figures to create a visual narrative composition about the blue-collar experience. It is important for the twins to continue to combine hand-crafted ceramic forms together with these found objects to give their work an authentic sense of place and time. The found objects are in sense historical artifacts. Much of Kyle and Kelly’s work not only allows the viewer to visualize their created compositions, but also allows the viewer to evoke their other senses as well. Some of the found objects that they have incorporated into the work are soot-covered or soaked in cutting machine oils that emit a distinctive odor commonly found in automotive factories.