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

Teaching, practice and time management

Shinobu posed an interesting question – is not teaching practicing? I don’t know the answer. In the last few years, I have been in charge of reviewing faculty – in that process, we have been really pushing our faculty to have more of a professional practice. It was considered a problem at the college – we had a lot of people not engaged in their fields, teaching what they had been taught and never questioning why or what. I did agree – if people aren’t following or engaging in the contemporary art and design world, how do they know what they’re doing is relevant? Do we not have an ethical responsibility to prepare the student to enter that world?

And it that process of being so critical, I found myself feeling like a hypocrite – my academic and administrative duties, and having a husband and two small children, did not allow me additional time to create work (hence my draw to this residency). It’s a work-life-art balance struggle that I don’t think I can solve at this point. One thing that might make me less stressed, more mentally healthy is if I let that go. I kept thinking if I read more time management books, made more lists, slept less, I could do it all. But there aren’t enough hours, and I’m a terrible parent and partner with sleep deprivation. So, like I lecture my students, the first thing to go is the art if you don’t make it a priority. Because you can’t quit your family, and you need a job. But no one really cares if you make art. 
Leave a Comment (5)

shinobu wrote on Aug 7:

Unlike many may imagine, being "officially" on-hiatus and asked to report on it is as challenging or demanding as trying to stay "off-hiatus" as an artist. Thus, it's worth the attention and deserves rewards but only those who are here truly know it!

Kelly wrote on Aug 5:

As Ive gotten off track in this residency (my goal had been to report on reconfiguring of a major, which morphed into writing a new one), I realize that when all is said and done, you just can't do everything. Not at once.

Georgia wrote on Jul 14:

I put pressure on myself too Kelly! You are not alone! :)

enrique wrote on Jul 8:

hi kelly! I agree with you, sometimes is better to let it go, give it space, or in other words, to wait for it to came back to you when it must come back to you. There is no point in stressing yourself at certain moments. And I'm sure it will get back when last expected ! Best wishes !!

shinobu wrote on Jul 3:

Let's ask Heather if teaching is art! ^^