• art21-nycu-ferris-artwork-001

    “My paintings are about, I think, seeing through to other worlds, like maybe hiding and exposing a road system on top of a subway system under an air traffic control system. That’s what abstraction is. It’s not about things that are nameable. It’s trying to undo the nameable things in life.” —Keltie Ferris

    Keltie Ferris. OO>><<OO, 2011. Oil, acrylic, oil pastel & sprayed paint on canvas; 80 x 80 inches. Photo by Mark Woods. Courtesy the artist and Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York. © Keltie Ferris


  • art21-nycu-ferris-artwork-002

    “I’ve had a lot of people say that my paintings remind them of graffitied walls or see maps and grids in a sort of literal sense. At first when people said you seem to be inspired by the city I thought ‘No, that’s so corny and that’s not true.’ Then I realized ‘Oh, I have a view of Manhattan from my studio.’ The main thing I look at when I’m not looking at my paintings is I look out the window.” —Keltie Ferris

    Keltie Ferris. }}}>>>><<<<{{{, 2011. Oil, acrylic, oil pastel & sprayed paint on canvas; 90 x 70 inches. Photo by Mark Woods. Courtesy the artist and Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York. © Keltie Ferris. Featured in the film Keltie Ferris Spray Paints in Solitude.


  • art21-nycu-ferris-artwork-003

    “Painting is one of the oldest things in the world. I mean hands down. Not only is it one of the oldest things in the world, but when you make a painting you have no idea how long it’s going to last. It could last a very, very long time. It might not. It might be put in the dumpster tomorrow. Maybe in hundreds of years people will be looking at my paintings. Maybe even just as artifacts of what idiotic people did in New York at some point.” —Keltie Ferris

    Keltie Ferris. [!] [!] [?], 2011. Oil, acrylic, oil pastel & sprayed paint on canvas; 80 x 60 inches. Photo by Mark Woods. Courtesy the artist and Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York. © Keltie Ferris. Featured in the film Keltie Ferris Spray Paints in Solitude.


  • art21-nycu-ferris-artwork-004

    “I think the beauty of painting is that you feel a kinship, for a moment at least, with the world. You feel a little less alone in the world, which is great.” —Keltie Ferris

    Keltie Ferris. ¡¡!!!¡¡¡, 2011. Oil, acrylic, oil pastel & sprayed paint on canvas; 100 x 80 inches. Photo by Mark Woods. Courtesy the artist and Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York. © Keltie Ferris. Featured in the film Keltie Ferris Spray Paints in Solitude.


  • art21-nycu-ferris-artwork-005

    “I think my paintings have a lot of noise to them. I have one painting that’s like all letter ‘e’s with an accent over it—éééé (2011)—but you don’t do that in French. You don’t have e with an accent aigu over and over again. A title like that doesn’t have specific meaning, but it changes things.” —Keltie Ferris

    Keltie Ferris. éééé, 2011. Oil, acrylic, oil pastel & sprayed paint on canvas; 30 x 30 inches. Photo by Mark Woods. Courtesy the artist and Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York. © Keltie Ferris


  • art21-nycu-ferris-artwork-006

    Keltie Ferris. Installation view of KF + CM 4EVER, Horton Gallery, 2010. From left to right: @#$%^&*() (2010), <<<>>> (2010), and xoxo (2010). Photo by Mark Woods. Courtesy the artist and Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York. © Keltie Ferris. Featured in the film Keltie Ferris Has a Show.


  • art21-nycu-ferris-artwork-007

    Keltie Ferris. Installation view of KF + CM 4EVER, Horton Gallery, 2010. From left to right: xoxo (2010), ((!!!!!)) (2010), and oooOOO()()() (2010). Photo by Mark Woods. Courtesy the artist and Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York. © Keltie Ferris. Featured in the film Keltie Ferris Has a Show.


  • art21-nycu-ferris-artwork-008

    “Some words…they’re so evocative and they can take over anything. I thought it was really interesting to not name a painting with words, but still give it a name. I had often thought of naming my paintings after sounds. But I never did it really, like ‘Zap’ or ‘Pop,’ or other onomatopoeia kinds of things.” —Keltie Ferris

    Keltie Ferris. oooOOO()()(), 2010. Oil, acrylic, oil pastel & sprayed paint on canvas; 100 x 80 inches. Photo by Mark Woods. Courtesy the artist and Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York. © Keltie Ferris. Featured in the film Keltie Ferris Has a Show.


  • art21-nycu-ferris-artwork-009

    “A title orders how we think; it adds emphasis and takes emphasis away. And also, so much of how we talk right now—from texting to emailing—is very visual. I thought it was exciting to have visual codes for my paintings rather than something you could say.” —Keltie Ferris

    Keltie Ferris. ((!!!!!)), 2010. Oil, acrylic, oil pastel & sprayed paint on canvas; 80 x 80 inches. Photo by Mark Woods. Courtesy the artist and Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York. © Keltie Ferris. Featured in the film Keltie Ferris Has a Show.


  • art21-nycu-ferris-artwork-010

    “This painting—which is unspeakable—the expletive or punctuation painting that’s titled all the punctuation at the top of the keyboard starting with the exclamation point and ending with the parenthesis. It has all these layers that I feel are on top of each other and yet breaking out of each other. It’s a lot about this imprint of the painting on top of the older layers. It’s also an ‘S-ing’ snake formation that’s rainbow colored. So simple: a form that snakes through the painting and changes colors as it goes.” —Keltie Ferris

    Keltie Ferris. !@#$%^&*(), 2010. Oil, acrylic, oil pastel & sprayed paint on canvas; 80 x 80 inches. Photo by Mark Woods. Courtesy the artist and Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York. © Keltie Ferris. Featured in the film Keltie Ferris Has a Show.


  • art21-nycu-ferris-artwork-011

    “I can talk about my paintings, but it’s all suspect. It’s all suspect. When you put all this stuff into words…I’m suspicious of it all. Everything I’m saying and anything anybody else says about it, I’m wondering if it’s really true or not. Punctuation just seems closer to the meat of it.” —Keltie Ferris

    Keltie Ferris. <<<>>>, 2010. Oil, acrylic, oil pastel & sprayed paint on canvas; 80 x 80 inches. Photo by Mark Woods. Courtesy the artist and Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York. © Keltie Ferris. Featured in the film Keltie Ferris Has a Show.


  • art21-nycu-ferris-artwork-012

    “I respect everything for what it is and try to take from it what I can, even if I don’t love it as a whole. But I balk when people talk about my work in only art historical senses. They will say ‘This stripe is Stella’ and ‘This poof is Litzky’ and ‘This layering is…’—they try to break it down into quotes. But my work isn’t based on quotations or some ironic picking up and putting down. I think it’s a lot more nuanced than that.” —Keltie Ferris

    Keltie Ferris. xoxo, 2010. Oil, acrylic, oil pastel & sprayed paint on canvas; 72 x 60 inches. Photo by Mark Woods. Courtesy the artist and Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York. © Keltie Ferris. Featured in the film Keltie Ferris Has a Show.


  • art21-nycu-ferris-artwork-013

    “Today, there’s this dichotomy that’s out there of ‘bitchy abstraction’ versus ‘sincere abstraction.’ It’s maybe a faux dichotomy. Bitchy abstraction is this abstraction that’s always undercutting itself a little bit. It’s very doubtful and dubious of the inherent (or maybe not so inherent) authority that we give painting, especially abstraction. Whereas sincere abstraction would be a painting that doesn’t question that authority. It uses its potential to explore feeling and truth as much as possible. Unabashedly.” —Keltie Ferris

    Keltie Ferris. KF + CM 4EVER, 2010. Oil, acrylic, oil pastel & sprayed paint on canvas; 72 x 60 inches. Photo by Mark Woods. Courtesy the artist and Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York. © Keltie Ferris. Featured in the film Keltie Ferris Has a Show.


  • art21-nycu-ferris-artwork-014

    “There’s a lot of ironic painting, and then there’s painting that has a sense of possibility or opening up. I think there’s very little wholehearted sincere abstraction being made by young people right now. Someone who believes in something but is also constantly questioning it at the same time…that would be my ideal.” —Keltie Ferris

    Keltie Ferris. P***y Whipped, 2010. Oil, acrylic, oil pastel & sprayed paint on canvas; 80 x 80 inches. Photo by Mark Woods. Courtesy the artist and Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York. © Keltie Ferris


  • art21-nycu-ferris-artwork-015

    “One thing that is never doubted as art today is abstract art. It’s almost a symbol of high art. If you’re so inclined, you can say, ‘Oh I hate that’ and ‘Why is that?’ But you’re probably saying it in the tone of ‘Why is that respected as art?’” —Keltie Ferris

    Keltie Ferris. Candy Darling, 2010. Oil, acrylic, oil pastel & sprayed paint on canvas; 80 x 80 inches. Photo by Mark Woods. Courtesy the artist and Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York. © Keltie Ferris


  • art21-nycu-ferris-artwork-016

    “I feel like the word ‘territory,’ like ‘exciting new territory’ is not what painting is all about right now. It’s more like if you can find an exciting couple of inches that you can delve into, then you’re really onto something, because it’s such an already explored medium to go on a territory analogy. If you can find a couple of square inches that no one else has covered, then you’re like a genius.” —Keltie Ferris

    Keltie Ferris. Victor Victoria Victory, 2010. Oil, acrylic, oil pastel & sprayed paint on canvas; 72 x 60 inches. Photo by Mark Woods. Courtesy the artist and Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York. © Keltie Ferris


  • art21-nycu-ferris-artwork-017

    “I’m not saying there’s no new world to discover in painting, but maybe it’s just a very tiny one. Or maybe it’s more reconfiguring old worlds to make some sort of newness out of…finding new and different ways to connect worlds, new networks. If you see something in a painting that you haven’t really seen before, that can be very exciting. I do know it when I see it.” —Keltie Ferris

    Keltie Ferris. Red Yellow and Blueprint, 2010. Oil, acrylic, oil pastel & sprayed paint on canvas; 34 x 28 inches. Photo by Mark Woods. Courtesy the artist and Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York. © Keltie Ferris


  • art21-nycu-ferris-artwork-018

    “It’s a little bit of a cliché to compare abstract painting to music, but the kind of painting I do is dynamic and full of energy, and that’s a feeling you get from music. Music doesn’t need to have words or a story etcetera, so that’s a good way to explain abstraction to people. If you don’t ask music to be of something, why should a painting be of something? But I think there’s also painting’s jealousy of music’s ability to express the specificity of a human emotion in daily life. Music is just better at it.” —Keltie Ferris

    Keltie Ferris. Butch-Femme Boogie Woogie, 2010. Oil, acrylic, oil pastel & sprayed paint on canvas; 60 x 48 inches. Photo by Mark Woods. Courtesy the artist and Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York. © Keltie Ferris


  • art21-nycu-ferris-artwork-019

    “When we say paintings have an emotion, we tend to think of this overwrought, Abstract Expressionist, existentialist angst or anger. I think I’m better at painting some sort of hope or potential for possibility, more energy than emotion.” —Keltie Ferris

    Keltie Ferris. He-She, 2010. Oil, acrylic, oil pastel & sprayed paint on canvas; 80 x 60 inches. Photo by Mark Woods. Courtesy the artist and Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York. © Keltie Ferris


  • art21-nycu-ferris-artwork-020

    “I like work that seems to have sense of potential or possibility or energy, or a depth and layerdness that’s really interesting. I feel like a lot of older paintings, they have a brownness to them. I know that’s such a horrendous oversimplification, but there’s a lot of brown painting. There’s a lot of dark painting.” —Keltie Ferris

    Keltie Ferris. Black Power, 2010. Oil, acrylic, oil pastel & sprayed paint on canvas; 34 x 27 inches. Photo by Mark Woods. Courtesy the artist and Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York. © Keltie Ferris


  • art21-nycu-ferris-artwork-021

    “Making paintings is such an enterprise in solitude. One of the things I really struggle with—about whether I could actually do this for my life—is I don’t know if I can be alone that much. It was really rough for me when I left school and started painting alone full time. I was living at home and working at home, so I had no reason to ever leave the house. I would go and buy milk and I would chat to the person selling me milk for like way too long.” —Keltie Ferris

    Keltie Ferris. Root Down, 2010. Oil, acrylic, oil pastel & sprayed paint on canvas; 35 x 28 inches. Photo by Mark Woods. Courtesy the artist and Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York. © Keltie Ferris


  • art21-nycu-ferris-artwork-022

    “I think there’s a little bit of a guilt of being an artist in this time, or any time, when you could be doing something more proactively positive directly in the world. It’s hard to do something that’s not justified by anything. I don’t know if I actually succeed in that. But that’s the goal.” —Keltie Ferris

    Keltie Ferris. St. Sebastian, 2009. Oil, acrylic, oil pastel & sprayed paint on canvas; 80 x 80 inches. Photo by Mark Woods. Courtesy the artist and Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York. © Keltie Ferris


  • art21-nycu-ferris-artwork-023

    “There’s something very indulgent about painting. My individual creativity splooged over this surface for you to admire how unique my mark-making, shit-smearing process is. I struggle with that. Not all the time, but I occasionally do struggle with that, about what I do with my life.” —Keltie Ferris

    Keltie Ferris. Man Whisperer, 2009. Oil, acrylic, oil pastel & sprayed paint on canvas; 80 x 80 inches. Photo by Mark Woods. Courtesy the artist and Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York. © Keltie Ferris


  • art21-nycu-ferris-artwork-024

    “I learned by talking about art. Not so much my art exactly, but talking with my friends and teachers about other people’s art and gauging my own responses against their responses. Now I feel it’s less based on that—it’s really just me and maybe art in books, mainly pictures.” —Keltie Ferris

    Keltie Ferris. Man Whisperer (detail), 2009. Oil, acrylic, oil pastel & sprayed paint on canvas; 80 x 80 inches. Photo by Mark Woods. Courtesy the artist and Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York. © Keltie Ferris


  • art21-nycu-ferris-artwork-025

    “At this point in my life, I have almost no one over to my studio regularly. It’s a much more lonely affair than you would ever guess, especially now, when people just want to see images on Facebook or on a computer. People don’t want to make big treks and I’m not next to anything or anybody. My friends...they come like once a year. My gallerist comes once before each show. When I make a new friend, I sometimes go to their studio. But it’s all very irregular.” —Keltie Ferris

    Keltie Ferris. Astroland, 2009. Oil, acrylic, oil pastel & sprayed paint on canvas; 60 x 47 inches. Photo by Mark Woods. Courtesy the artist and Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York. © Keltie Ferris


  • art21-nycu-ferris-artwork-026

    “I used to watch people looking at my art a lot, watching their body language. It’s really fun to go to group shows and stand by your painting when no one knows you’re the artist. I would just listen to people be like, ‘Um…weird…wow!’” —Keltie Ferris

    Keltie Ferris. Sideshow, 2009. Oil, acrylic, oil pastel & sprayed paint on canvas; 72 x 60 inches. Photo by Mark Woods. Courtesy the artist and Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York. © Keltie Ferris


  • art21-nycu-ferris-artwork-027

    “Now I feel like I can understand what interests other people by watching them more than by listening to what they say, cause you know, most of the time people are not honest. I don’t think I’m that honest about other people’s work, I’ll admit. No one is.” —Keltie Ferris

    Keltie Ferris. Will Powers, 2008-09. Oil, acrylic, oil pastel & sprayed paint on canvas; 80 x 60 inches. Photo by Mark Woods. Courtesy the artist and Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York. © Keltie Ferris


  • art21-nycu-ferris-artwork-028

    “I like the idea of giving yourself a new name. That’s what bands do. They’re always like ‘Let’s give ourselves a new name,’ like ‘We’re this.’ And then they change it later. There’s something about that like a painting.” —Keltie Ferris

    Keltie Ferris. Calamity Jane, 2008. Oil, acrylic, oil pastel & sprayed paint on canvas; 80 x 70 inches. Photo by Mark Woods. Courtesy the artist and Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York. © Keltie Ferris


  • art21-nycu-ferris-artwork-029

    “There are paintings of mine that aren’t so much turning points as they’re like, ‘Oh, I got it.’ Spider Silva—that’s the name of an ultimate fighter, by the way, again somebody who renamed himself some absurd name. It’s very elegant yet fierce. It has this frontal, almost symmetrical quality that I’d been working with for a long time. Confrontational yet elegant. It’s a commanding painting.” —Keltie Ferris

    Keltie Ferris. Spider Silva, 2008. Oil, acrylic, oil pastel & sprayed paint on canvas; 80 x 80 inches. Photo by Mark Woods. Courtesy the artist and Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York. © Keltie Ferris


  • art21-nycu-ferris-artwork-030

    Keltie Ferris. Spider Silva (detail), 2008. Oil, acrylic, oil pastel & sprayed paint on canvas; 80 x 80 inches. Photo by Mark Woods. Courtesy the artist and Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York. © Keltie Ferris


  • art21-nycu-ferris-artwork-031

    “A creation needs a name, but then there’s something really arbitrary about what the name is. I was into all these bands out here, and a lot of them were drag kings and drag queens, and I thought that was really fun. A lot of them have these names that are absurd puns, which could be problematic or a really good name for a painting.” —Keltie Ferris

    Keltie Ferris. Jobriath, 2008. Oil, acrylic, oil pastel & sprayed paint on canvas; 80 x 80 inches. Photo by Mark Woods. Courtesy the artist and Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York. © Keltie Ferris


  • art21-nycu-ferris-artwork-032

    Keltie Ferris. Jobriath, detail, 2008. Oil, acrylic, oil pastel & sprayed paint on canvas; 80 x 80 inches. Photo by Mark Woods. Courtesy the artist and Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York. © Keltie Ferris


  • art21-nycu-ferris-artwork-033

    “I definitely do go through periods. At one point I was trying to paint my paintings the way Cezanne paints his trees and sky, this crosshatched mark making that’s almost sculptural. It’s a feeling around things and trying to make them as real as possible and as bright as possible.” —Keltie Ferris

    Keltie Ferris. Dionysus Ain’t Afraid, 2008. Oil, acrylic, oil pastel & sprayed paint on canvas; 80 x 70 inches. Photo by Mark Woods. Courtesy the artist and Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York. © Keltie Ferris


  • art21-nycu-ferris-artwork-034

    “Philip Guston was a big thing for me a while, mainly the abstract pink ones from the middle period really got me going. Not the later Gustons as much, which is usually what people are really drawn to.” —Keltie Ferris

    Keltie Ferris. Sincerely Yours, 2008. Oil, acrylic, oil pastel & sprayed paint on canvas; 80 x 70 inches. Photo by Mark Woods. Courtesy the artist and Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York. © Keltie Ferris


  • art21-nycu-ferris-artwork-035

    “Queen Pyro was a big shift for me. It was the last of these mask paintings that I made, and I felt it had what I wanted of those mask formations but wasn’t overburdened by it. I also started spraying oil paint for the first time and was able to get something that I hadn’t been able to get before. It had a celestial world, but that world ended and then there’s a world behind it, with smoke coming from the old world to the new world.” —Keltie Ferris

    Keltie Ferris. Queen Pyro, 2008. Oil, acrylic, oil pastel & sprayed paint on canvas; 80 x 70 inches. Photo by Mark Woods. Courtesy the artist and Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York. © Keltie Ferris


  • art21-nycu-ferris-artwork-036

    Keltie Ferris. Aviator, 2008. Oil, acrylic, oil pastel & sprayed paint on canvas; 80 x 70 inches. Photo by Mark Woods. Courtesy the artist and Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York. © Keltie Ferris


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