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New Works of Eric Kelly III

•Eric Kelly has graciously merged his public and personal worlds in his memoir, Human Landscapes.” Eric has successfully blended portrait imagery with semi-abstract backgrounds seamlessly and beautifully very much akin to the spirit of how he shows up in the world.

•In his day to day interactions, he also balances the composition of artist and social entrepreneur very much the same way that he positions faces, imagery, color, and flow in harmony. He executes consistency and always a freshness that is stark, new, and undeniably signature Eric Kelly.

•There is an African proverb, “where you stand in your youth will determine where you sit as an elder.” Growing up under the tutelage of strong, independent, change-making elders embroidered the similarity of this proverbial on his young psyche.

•Not only did Eric Kelly as a youngster understand what was required of him as a responsible young Black man growing up in a harsh and bitter unequitable society but he understood his elder’s teachings of where he needed to be and how he must stand up in his power. I met Eric Kelley in another dimension of his creative artistry and development where he was executing that commitment to the integrity that was imbedded in him by his grandparents.

•Eric saw the need to work with financially disadvantaged youth at a time when his sales and marketing profession was elevated and soaring. He understood the need to make a difference and pay it forward by sharing and counseling youth that resonated with growing up in the same neighborhood.

•The correlation between Eric Kelly’s commitment to creativity and social change is evident in the narratives and truth-telling that happen between his brush strokes and the canvas. That inspiration not only brightens a living space or a gallery but his boldness in technique and developing his own style is the personal agency, energy, and conversation that he delivers over and over to any public audience that he is engaged with.

•This lovely book is a museum itself. The reader is witness to a stellar diversity of paintings that allow us to discover the multi-dimensional facets, the chaos, and the divinity that create one landscape after another.

•This publication, like the brilliant paintings shared by the artist is a collector’s item. This book is an invitation into a dialogue that one rarely has the opportunity to exchange with a community-based artist whose work is organic geometric shapes and lines, compositions of layers of ink, oils, and other mediums that are often inaccessible.

•There are reflections of historical richness, the physical strength and boldness of exactness, and the generosity of infinite possibilities. Human Landscapes draws us in closely to the artist in his studio, allowing us to imagine our own stories inside his paint.

•Eric Kelly, the painter, grants us a glimpse into his mind. There are multiple layers of persona, human depth, history, and ancestral memory layered in imagery that speak to a universal code of soul, heart, and vision.

• In many interviews with Eric, I am always amazed by his all-night painting marathons and how seriously committed he is to his craft and process. Yet, he is not the recluse artist who disappears and only appears to proclaim his newest work. North Carolina and Durham specifically experience Eric Kelly, as artist and social entrepreneur who intentionally contributes to the overall health, development, and well-being of our communities. We experience him as creative thinker, maker whose work provide us joy, interaction, and inspiration. This catalogue of story and arresting musicality of color and intention provides sincere guidance and directives for readers to better understand an expressive painter who has perfected a profession for working with historical, social, political, and contemporary contexts. Eric Kelly’s work instructs us to observe how memory serves as the medicine that recreates different literacies within the language of his social practice. All of the art that we are invited to experience in Human Landscapes is the retelling of many truths deeply lodged in personal, social, and political geography. This body of work is a testament to Eric’s rich human fluency in communicating individual experiences that draw our collective humanity in closer to see, hear, and feel our own truths inside his paintings. This publication should be accessible as a teaching tool and especially available to the emerging artist who might be struggling with what it means to create art that can illuminate what lies hidden, repressed, or marginalized. Eric Kelly challenges the status-quo of traditional modes of art representation that has not and does not make space for him or other artists who protect and understand their own worth, while validating the currency of their artistic property. Eric Kelly is a trailblazer, maverick, visionary, and artist who is not erasable. He is utilizing his business savvy and his creative genius to bring new ideas to life. This contemporary artist understands the importance of legacy exemplified in his creation of the Eric Kelly Museum paying homage to his elders who provided and nourished the light for his magnificent journey with his art. This act of creating a showcase for his work is a tremendous model for other artists who feel marginalized or ostracized by mainstream art institutions. Human Landscapes is an important imprint that offers a different perspective of challenge to the possibilities for changes in attitudes regarding the role of the artist in community. Eric Kelly’s transparency and vulnerability throughout these pages is a transformative offering that is tangible and a message that we all can embrace and support. We are surrounded by pages of complex originality of a great artist hidden in plain sight awaiting massive discovery. As a collector, I encourage other collectors to look at Eric Kelly’s art as I believe he has the potential to become a more important contemporary Black artist in America and beyond. By Jaki Shelton Green is an American poet. In November 2009, she was named the first Piedmont Laureate by a collection of Triangle-area arts councils

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