b. Houston, TX
Lives and works in Minneapolis, MN
Kelley Meister (ze/hir) is an interdisciplinary artist who uses drawings, sculpture, and time-based art to build transformative experiences and environments that encourage empathy through a shared emotional experience or exploration. For AOV11, Meister joins visual observation and data collection with a 100-mile bicycle ride between nuclear power plants in Minnesota throughout July, August, and September 2021. Hir work is documented at hotzone.kelleymeister.com. Get to know Kelley Meister: check out this Q&A ze did here.
I am an interdisciplinary visual artist who builds transformative experiences that encourage empathy through a shared emotional exploration. My work primarily utilizes drawing, hand-made objects, digital media, site-specific installations, and socially engaged, participatory events that overlap and intersect. Over the last decade, my work has focused on shared worldwide issues, such as climate change and nuclear war, in order to investigate empathetic responses that emerge from global threats and existential fear. Through my work, I seek an antidote to this fear.
Over the course of the extended AOV11 fellowship, the world shifted in unexpected ways. Fear and uncertainty became ever-present in my life, beginning with watching the shelves rapidly empty in stores. I knew my work had something to offer to this moment, but for much of the fellowship period, I felt paralyzed by fear and corresponding grief. Eventually, last winter I found a new working pattern, one that was slower, more introspective, and deeply personal.
For the culmination of my AOV project, I launched a long-term investigation of the 100-mile stretch of land and water between the two nuclear power plants in Mni Sota, so-called Minnesota, at Prairie Island and Monticello. This includes a sculptural component of windsocks that call attention to the wind that moves particulates, smoke, dust, pollen, seeds, insects, and more through the 100-mile space. The wind disperses what is here, while also depositing small artifacts from along its route. These windsocks were installed at various points throughout the 100-mile HOT ZONE area throughout the month of September 2021.
Additionally, I created a participatory online platform that explores our proximity to nuclear waste through data collection; drawing and visual observation; bicycle rides and other mobile endeavors; environmental radiation monitors; and connections between people. Audiences are invited to submit drawings and photographic observations to the website hotzone.kelleymeister.com.
At an informal gathering, others were invited to join me in looking closely at the ecosystem in a small oak savanna lying adjacent to the Haha Wakpa / Gitchi Ziibi / Mississippi River. Guided by a small zine that I created that included drawing prompts, we carefully observed plants and small creatures of the habitat, created a document of their lives in that location on that date, and added our observations to the website.
My goal is for this work to bring new awareness to our environment and to the delicate microcosm around us. Many people are surprised to hear that there are two nuclear power plants just outside the Twin Cities. By taking time to look closely at the ecosystem along the river, this work opens up space for deeper observation and contemplation of our future.