MacArthur ‘Genius’ Grant: Mary Reid Kelley

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Mary Reid Kelley

Mary Reid Kelley, a senior critic in Penn’s master of fine arts program in the School of Design, has been selected as a 2016 MacArthur Fellow by the John D. and Catherine T. Mac-Arthur Foundation.

Ms. Kelley uses a mixture of painting, poetry and performance to depict historical moments through characters that embody ideas from various time periods. From a soldier in World War I to a French prostitute in Paris during the revolution, her works explore dilemmas within mortality, sex and estrangement.

“Mary Reid Kelley is creating a legacy for future artists and establishing a new standard to which artists of tomorrow can aspire,” said Penn President Amy Gutmann. “We are proud to have her serve as a senior critic at PennDesign, where she is making extraordinary contributions to the development of our students.”

Born in South Carolina, Ms. Kelley studied art and women’s studies at St. Olaf College and received her MFA in painting from Yale University.

She has had solo exhibitions in New York, Los Angeles and London.

Along with her partner, artist Patrick Kelley, her videos have been exhibited at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia and Boston, Rose Art Museum, ZKM Museum of Contemporary Art in Karlsruhe, Germany and the Pilar Corrias Gallery in London among others. The works are in public collections at the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Yale University Art Gallery.

Together, the Kelleys have discussed their work and their process at many universities including Penn, St. Olaf College, NYU, Columbia, the Norfolk School of Art, Yale and Brandeis.

The Fellowship is awarded to talented individuals in a variety of fields who have shown exceptional originality in and dedication to their creative pursuits.

Fellows receive $625,000 stipends that are bestowed with no conditions. Nominated anonymously by leaders in their respective fields and considered by an anonymous selection committee, recipients learn of their selection only when they receive a call from the MacArthur Foundation just before the public announcement.

Prior Penn recipients of the MacArthur Fellowships in the past three decades include: Danielle S. Bassett (Almanac September 23, 2014); Angela Duckworth (Almanac October 1, 2013); Sarah H. Kagan (Almanac October 7, 2003); Susan Stewart (Almanac  July 15, 1997) and Stuart A. Kauffman (Almanac July 14, 1987).