Danielle Kelly is an artist and writer based in Las Vegas, Nevada. Kelly’s project-based practice ranges from installation to performance and has been featured in solo and group exhibitions in Los Angeles, Seattle, Las Vegas, San Francisco, and Portland. Kelly’s writing has appeared in such regional publications as Las Vegas Weekly and Desert Companion. Kelly is the Executive Director and Curator of the Neon Museum. She has done a series of interviews with artists with ties to Las Vegas for celebration of our music issue.
1) What is your relationship to sound in the studio?
I feel like I’ve become more sensitive to sound. “Non-work” sounds: socializing, laughing are distracting for me and I’ll wear headphones to tune them out if they are too loud. There is a tattoo shop across the hall from my studio and I like the “work” sound of the tattoo gun. In grad school one of my studio neighbors used to play the same movie over and over to work to, and the sound of the film playing combined with the sound of his palette knife on the glass became a comforting background “work” sound. I can only play podcasts or the radio when I’m doing non-thinking work like stretching or gessoing canvas, packing art or organizing the studio, but I can’t listen and absorb dialogue when I’m painting.
2) What is your relationship to music in the studio?
It’s always been very important to me, but more recently have considered and experimented with working without music in silence. I had been streaming music which was a nice because it’s continuous and it exposes me to new music, but I’ve returned to my old CD/cassette player or my iPod to play entire albums. It has to emit the right kind of energy. Usually I will play the same 5-10 albums over an over and I feel like they become soundtracks for the work. Or I’ll return to music that I played during and associate with important painting periods, and they are comforting or compelling, depending on my frame of mind.
Sometimes a song is too powerful to work to. I’ll think about the lyrics too much or play a song over and over and have to switch albums or turn off the music if I find I’m not progressing with the painting. I don’t know, maybe I should do something with that, write about it or draw, let myself switch gears. Or maybe it’s a sign that I need to take a break or work in silence.
It’s also a good sign when an album ends and I don’t think about putting on something else for a long time. It means I’m in a good zone and won’t think about it until I take a break.
3) What, if anything, is in heavy rotation in your studio right now?
Lots of women: Amanda Palmer/Dresden Dolls, Bjork, Joni Mitchell, Cocteau Twins, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Cat Power. Also Arcade Fire, Phantogram and Beck.
4) What would be your desert island studio record?
This is hard…. there is a Nina Simone album I burned to a disc years ago (titling it only “Nina”) and iTunes won’t identify it … I can’t find it, I don’t know what it is, but it’s a compilation I love.
Wendy Kveck is a visual artist from the Chicago area who lives and works in Las Vegas, Nevada. Through her work in painting, performance, video and installation she examines images of women from art history and contemporary media as cultural signifiers of excess and desire, anxiety and fear, regret and loss. Her work is exhibited nationally, and in addition to her studio practice, Kveck teaches art as an adjunct faculty member at College of Southern Nevada. Recent projects include a Jentel Artist Residency in Banner, Wyoming and a solo exhibition at Trifecta Gallery in Las Vegas. Find out more about her on her website here.