Kelly Malec-Kosak, United States

Residency Period: 1 November 2014 - 31 October 2015


Bio

Kelly Malec-Kosak is an artist in Columbus OH, and is the Chair of Fine Arts at Columbus College of Art & Design. She received her MFA from California College of the Arts in Oakland CA. Her work has been featured nationally and internationally, most recently in "Protective Ornament: Contemporary Armour to Amulet" at the National Metal Museum and "Reflection: 100 Years of Jewellery/Metal Arts at CCA" in Oakland CA. She has received an Individual Excellence Award from the Ohio Arts Council, and the International Residency in Dresden Germany from the Greater Columbus Arts Council. In 2012, she traveled to Ravenstein, Netherlands to study with Ruudt Peters and a group of international artists. Malec-Kosak's work has been featured in Metalsmith, Humor in Craft by Bridgette Martin, and On Body and Soul: Contemporary Armour to Amulet by Suzanne Ramljak.

URL: www.kelly-malec-kosak.com


On-hiatus Proposal Summary

As higher education continues to evolve and adapt, Kelly finds herself in a unique and frustrating position in her own artistic practice. As the chair of Fine Arts at Columbus College of Art and Design, she has been tasked, along with the faculty, of restructuring the Fine Arts curriculum to better relate and adjust to the changing climate of higher education and art. The tremendous amount of research and collaboration demanded by this, along with her other work and personal obligations, has pre-empted her ability to participate in her art practice in any meaningful way.

During her residency at RFAOH, Kelly has decided to solely focus on this task of restructuring a college art program with a fundamental objective of writing an outstanding and relevant Fine Arts and Crafts curriculum, while also travelling for research purposes to various academic and commercial art sectors. She believes that her on-hiatus endeavour will lead to a new direction in her work and impact her art-making once she returns to it.


Final Report

I would first like to thank Shinobu and Matt for their incredible support - as I mentioned in my post, this residency period came at a time of personal and professional difficulty. I hadn't anticipated either, and Shinobu and Matt would gently guide me back on track with encouragement and reminders. That said, I am sorry I didn't participate as fully as I would have liked. But I appreciated the other artists in the residency, reading their posts and activities.

I started out with the intention of posting updates on reworking a curriculum, and that evolved into writing a new major for our college. I did wind up reaching my goal: the proposal and courses were submitted to our accreditors in August, and I'm still waiting to hear if it's approved. I'm weirdly OK either way - despite the hours spent, I was able to let it go quite soon afterwards. Now that I've had time to reflect, I can think of several things that probably aren't right and need to be reworked. I think, if nothing else, I should learn from this year I shouldn't sweat the little things.

The biggest thing I learned from this period of reflection: it made it clear that I desperately needed to get back to my work. As I looked back over the last three years, I became horrified that I allowed it to slip away - administrative duties, teaching, family all took priority over my work. While I know life ebbs and flows, it became intolerable to me, particularly in the last two months of the residency, that I haven't made anything of significance recently. No investigations, no research for myself, no experimenting. This really hit me the hardest when I started teaching a studio course this fall - I almost dropped out of the residency just to make something. I couldn't take it.

I'm back in the studio, but my idea of studio has changed. It's not a place - it's where/when/how I can make something. I can't set aside hours to work - not at this point in my life. So, I have to adapt. Right now, my studio is a canvas bag, which holds a capezio body suit, black thread, scissors and needles. I'm altering the suit through repetitive stitches, thinking with my hands. I discovered, to my delight, that TSA lets you take needles on airplanes (?) and recently, my studio and I went to San Francisco, where i enjoyed five hours of uninterrupted time, stitching, thinking, tying knots. I still am not sure why or what I'm doing. But I'm making, and I can't ask for more than that.

I think this residency helped me prioritize what I'm doing. I really had to think about why I've done what I've done - and how to change it. I thank you for the opportunity.


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recent comments

On Nov 18 2015, shinobu and matt commented on From RFAOH co-directors: Thank you Ruth, for your nice comment -- it's a moment like this we feel really excited that this sm[...]

On Nov 17 2015, Ruth commented on From RFAOH co-directors: I find it inspiring that Kelly found new grounds to see herself towards her work. It makes me think [...]

On Sep 5 2015, milena kosec commented on DONE WITH DOCUMENT: For me it is dependent on skills you have, momentary mood and circumstances.[...]

On Sep 1 2015, Kelly commented on DONE WITH DOCUMENT: If approved, it would launch next fall.... The hardest???? Hmmm I think I'm riddled with insecuritie[...]

On Sep 1 2015, shinobu commented on DONE WITH DOCUMENT: Hooray!! Congratulations Kelly!!! When does the actual program start? And, tell us, which was harder[...]


Back in the studio…kind of

Classes began last month, and for the first time in years, I’m back in a studio class – I had been teaching our senior class which focused on critique, writing, exhibiting and presenting the students’ work.  But this fall, I’m back to teaching intermediate and advanced jewelry. With my absence of a practice, particularly a technical one, I was worried – I hadn’t done some of these processes in years. Turns out, it’s like riding a bike. I used to think being a great teacher meant you had to know every process and technique in your discipline, so I would practice and practice so I would be viewed as an expert – now, I know that was based on lack of confidence. I am much more comfortable telling my students, “I don’t know. Let’s figure it out.” Being in the jewelry studio makes me realize HOW EXCITED I am to get back in the studio after all this time  

I decided I wanted the students to explore contemporary jewelry – what is it? Why do we wear it? So I wrote a series of problems for the semester – “jewelry as….” is the theme. The first was “jewelry as purpose,” and the second is “jewelry as symbol.”  The final will be “jewelry as decoration” (I think???). I was hoping to broaden their minds and have them understand why they make jewelry….turns out, the short investigations I’ve had them do between major assignments are much better. For the first one, we did a quick piece – the first was a piece that transformed when you took it off the table and put it on the body. For the second, I handed them a bag with 11 objects in it – they had to make a piece that connected two parts of their body, using the objects – they had two hours and they weren’t allowed to talk. That’s when they made some jewelry. 

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