45 year old contemporary American photographer Kelli Connell, born in Oklahoma City and now resides in Chicago, became a photographer because she wanted to experiment with photography and the ways the platform can create discussion and raise questions. She manipulates real images into surrealist final products and messages that challenge the norms and visual effects that viewers are used to seeing (and expect to see). With work shown in places like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Columbus Museum of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, The Haggerty Museum of Art, Microsoft, and more, Connell has clearly been successful at reaching a wide audience with her work. Along with showcasing her work in shows and museums, as well as sharing it on social media platforms, Connell also teaches at Columbia College Chicago.
I think it is important to acknowledge that Connells goal with her work goes beyond the labels that are placed on it. This is noted in an essay by Susan Bright, which was published by DECODE Books, where Bright states how Connell is said to have been “at the forefront of artists using digital technologies for the past decade, but her art is not about Photoshop.” Bright makes the point, which after observing Connells work I agree with, that the photographs in Connell’s series Double Life “extend far beyond their duplicity into larger and more complex issues of identity and visual rhetoric.” This is important to note because Connells work goes beyond the product itself — while visually appealing and interesting to look at, her work has another layer of it that deserves to be peeled back and analyzed. This layer, the message behind it, focuses on drawing attention to topics such as gender roles, individual identity, and more.
When analyzing her work, it is clear that Connells work originates with traditional photography while also incorporating the digital side of art as well. From a technical and aesthetic standpoint, I personally really enjoyed her work. The details she included grasped the reality and humanity behind the images, but through photoshop and technology she adds a dynamic layer that either typically cannot be captured in real life or in other instances are the aspects of life and interactions that typically go unseen. I feel that her work, both the ones that orients around nature and the art that focuses on humans, captures life and emotions on a new level. Her work evokes emotions and thoughts from me. Instead of simply enjoying it at the surface level, it also makes me thing and causes me to consider deeper topics which is something I really appreciate.