Bethany Kelley - Artist
Previous Work, 2017
Find What You Seek
30" x 30"
Find What You Seek is my response to the broad topic of “otherness.” How does it feel to be an outsider? What might it look like? Is there a way that we can shift perspective just enough to see that we are all other.
Where we currently live or who we are spending time with can influence our degree of feeling set apart. So can the way we view ourselves. For some, otherness can be dangerous and to others it’s a feather in a hat and an attribute that feels exciting. Otherness is in our heads, not because it’s imaginary but because it’s given positive or negative power inside of my mind, your mind, their minds. Can we accept our otherness without ascribing “good” or “bad”?
Find What You Seek is an investigation of these questions and invites the viewer to work through them using this as a visual jumping off point. The expectation of a piece addressing otherness would be to see a grouping of things that are the same with the purpose of highlighting the one that is different. Then we may narrate in our minds “that one does not belong.” And that’s the extent of the depth that the conversation. With Find What You Seek you’ll need to try a little harder. First, you’ll notice that each wooden shape is unique. But still we continue to privately work at categorizing because the brain wants to make sense of the presentation: “Which rock belongs with which?” “Do I separate them by color, number of angles, placement?” And the truth is, yes, you may do that but I don’t believe you will walk away satisfied.
The power with Find What You Seek is choosing to go a step farther and begin to seek connections instead. Many more of those exist in these shapes and in our shared humanity. I hope that Find What You Seek offers the viewer a moment of revelation about our tendencies to seek division first. It is a normal response and not one that any shame needs to be connected to. However, it is my desire that the viewer will then enjoy the creativity and satisfaction that comes with seeking similarities. Suddenly the metaphors abound when we realize each rock was created from the same material. They each are a color. They all live within the same space and within the same frame. They each cast shadows, have angles, command their own space, are imperfect, are lovely, and it goes on and on.
With this piece I invite you to set aside our human desire to sort like with like and instead seek the spirit of the whole. If you seek connection, you will find it.