How artist Kelly Reemtsen explores notions of femininity

Elena Frampton here. Despite the busy days at the helm Frampton Co, I never take for granted how the power of women is the driving force of studio success (shout out to my brilliant team led by women and creative collaborators with whom I have the privilege of working every day!).

We are now in the third episode of our series of short and sweet conversations. For these last 6 minutes of joy, I am excited to present an imaginative and versatile contemporary artist Kelly Reemtsen, which shares the roots of research into its work – or should I say, explosion – of traditional gender roles. See:

Our honest conversation found a common resistance to the “boxes” that society is trying to impose, revealing the unique ways in which this has taken place in each of our careers. Get involved as we become personal – from the shockingly outdated notion of women that prompted Reemtsen’s current art series, to (surprise!) Joining in her morning journey.

Reemtsen emerges from his massive, sun-drenched studio in East Los Angeles. Her paintings, which at the same time marry and contrast the traditional notions of femininity with classically masculine objects, have an interesting origin.

Artwork by Kelly Reemtsen – Taking Shape Light Pink

Kelly Reemtsen artwork in Albertz Band

“I was looking through the old one Better homes and gardens“, Reemtsen remembers,“ and I saw this research with this really beautiful woman in a yellow dress. The research raised the question “Should a woman be able to water a lawn?”. I couldn’t help but laugh – of course I should, along with everything else!

The idea that women should be limited to traditionally female roles has met with a familiar chord. I always say that I can’t be “inserted” – and although I think that in a very creative sense it also stems from the social conditioning that being a woman is related to certain senses of beauty, marital status or the like. I love Reemtsen’s work of unexpectedly reversing these narratives from within.

Young Elena Frampton in a woodworking class

Ignoring certain imposed restrictions does not mean abandoning what gives us strength. Take Reemtsen’s stands of lovely and whimsical dresses, which she uses to shape her items. Just because we love tulle doesn’t mean we’re not tough! Reemtsen and I share this embrace of paradox, which is another reason why I was so eager to have – and share – this conversation with her.

We also share a tendency in our creative practices. “When I was a kid, I kind of got lost in my head,” Reemtsen says. “I wasn’t thinking about what I was doing, I was already doing it!” That same spontaneous momentum evokes even today in her art. And I work from an intuitive place, and that throat forward allows us both to continue to challenge the status quo through our work.

Kelly Reemtsen

Join the video above for our vivid conversation, complemented by exhibition challenges during COVID, stories of enigmatic women in Reemtsen’s family tree, and peeking into a dress with cakes in front and in the center of her studio. (Creates a pretty nice episode, if I say so myself!)

Edits episodes Evey Joan, with selected images out of kindness Albertz Benda.

Special thanks Frampton Co for this post and for making us a media partner for their Salon: Short & Sweet series.

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