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Kelly Connole

Hanna and Hazel 

I understand my surroundings and express my engagement with the world through imagery. Memories, personal interactions, and elements of the natural world inform my desire to create narrative pieces. Clay’s tactile temperament is an ideal vehicle for me to connect to the earth beneath my feet and the materials in my hands as ideas take shape in my studio. I investigate relationships within environments: natural and constructed, human and animal, tangible and fleeting. 

Rabbits and other animals are metaphors for human beings, exposing vulnerabilities and tendencies through the gesture of ears, hands and bodies. I am fascinated by our relationship with nature and other creatures. As humans, we love to go into nature—forgetting that we are indeed part of the package. We choose which plants and animals are pests and those whom we cherish—endowing them with human attributes. Our interactions with wild things are filled with contradictory emotions of fear, delight, and our desire to personify all that we encounter.

Inspiration comes from memories and everyday experiences. When I was a child, animals were my constant companions. I humanized them completely, replacing imaginary human friends with a fantastic array of animal friends. The rabbits from the series When the Sky Meets the Earth attempt to capture an experience in rural Montana. Several of my pet rabbits broke free of their cages and multiplied. One night, on a full moon, I looked out of my bedroom window to see a whole herd of rabbits in the space between our house and the barn. The moonlight glistened on their backs, illuminating their voluptuous forms and curious ears. When a flock of birds flew over the rabbits, casting fleeting shadows on their backs, it took my breath away. This is one of my earliest memories—I was five or six at the time—and it remains one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen. At that moment I saw the place where the sky and the earth meet and I felt a part of a world much larger than I could then, or now, describe with words.

Through these groups of hybrid creatures, I hope to examine that complicated space between birds and rabbits, wild and cultivated environments, childhood memories and adult realities. Each piece is comprised of layered fragments as I seek a connection to the natural world and to other beings.