Kelly Malec-Kosak, United States

Residency Period: 1 November 2014 - 31 October 2015


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.


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.




recent comments


Very excited to post this…and it’s a slight excuse for missing July, and being very late in August. I was able to finish my draft of the NASAD document for the Contemporary Craft major, with an embedded business minor, on August 15…and there was much rejoicing. What this invovled was a large document full of academic speak – 

Degree title and purpose

General body of knowledge

Degree competencies

Curricular tables

Program rationale

More stuff like that…but I think I am slowly forgetting it 🙂 It was fascinating to work on – painful sometimes, but really makes you think about what you’re doing. Is this the right thing at the right time in the right place?  I had never really thought about our competencies for students; for example: “The ability to think, speak, and write clearly and effectively, and to communicate with precision, cogency, and rhetorical force.” Then you investigate the classes you’ve written, and you show where this competencies has been met. 

Once it went to my dean, it was sent to our associate provost. I understand it’s a different document but if it gets approved? Fine by me…being invovled at the initial stages gave me more of a sense of responsiblity to follow through on what we wrote. Will this all align? Will it make sense? Does it leave room for flexibility? Serendipity? The document, in all its seriousness, does not seem to have humor at all. It sincerely believes in its purpose. But I hope it comes alive – with the students, instructors and the making – into something more: organic, always changing, fluid.

In relation to my proposal, my intent had been to build a relevant Fine Arts and Crafts Curriuculm. The Crafts one is still theoretical, but the Fine Arts curriculum is moving forward:

1. We have an Intro to Fine Arts Class in the first semester for our freshmen: it is integrated with Art History, Modern to Contemporary. So the studio person and art historian team teach it, working on projects, readings and assignments that work together. The first studio assignment was “25 self-portraits your mother wouldn’t hang on the refridgerator.” 

2. We have an Integrated Sophomore Studio: it is the same type of course, but is integrated with Contemporary art history. I’m most excited about this class, because we were able to build a floor dedicated to Fine Arts Sophmores only this summer – it has a seminar/project room, and a large working space where each student gets a table, locker and chair. For the first time, we are really trying to build community in our major. I think/hope this space is the key – they have a place to work, all to themselves. 

It’s all a big experiment – it seems right, but there are so many variables: the right faculty have to team-teach it, the students have to buy into a more contemporary way of making and the other faculty have to support it. Right now, it’s week 2 of the semester…so it’s all unknown.

But the kids have STUDIOS.

Leave a Comment (3)

milena kosec wrote on Sep 5:

For me it is dependent on skills you have, momentary mood and circumstances.

Kelly wrote on Sep 1:

If approved, it would launch next fall....
The hardest???? Hmmm I think I'm riddled with insecurities (if you didn't get that from previous posts)....but making art is the hardest for me. Not making art is isadly probably the easiest - life/work distracts and I can shove it down my list of priorities. Writing involves research which I love - there's a stop and start and a form (usually). Making art has no start or stop, no form, formula...but others might disagree?

shinobu wrote on Sep 1:

Hooray!! Congratulations Kelly!!! When does the actual program start? And, tell us, which was harder, doing this or writing a grant proposal for an art project, or not making art, or making art??