Penn Design’s Mary Reid Kelly Receives MacArthur ‘Genius Grant’

Mary Reid Kelley, a senior critic in the Master of Fine Arts program in the School of Design at the University of Pennsylvania has been selected as a 2016 MacArthur Fellow by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

With a mix of painting, poetry and performance, Kelley’s videos breathe new life into history’s darkest moments through characters that embody ideas from various time periods. From a soldier in World War I to a French prostitute in Paris during the revolution, her works explore dilemmas within mortality, sex and estrangement.

“Mary Reid Kelley is creating a legacy for future artists and establishing a new standard to which artists of tomorrow can aspire,” said Penn President Amy Gutmann.  “We are proud to have her serve as a senior critic at Penn Design, where she is making extraordinary contributions to the development of our students.”

Born in South Carolina, Kelley studied Art and Women’s Studies at St. Olaf College and received her Master of Fine Arts in Painting from Yale University.

She’s had solo exhibitions in New York, Los Angeles and London.

Along with her partner, artist Patrick Kelley, her videos have been exhibited at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia and Boston, Rose Art Museum, ZKM Museum of Contemporary Art in Karlsruhe, Germany, the Fredericks & Freiser gallery in New York, and the Pilar Corrias Gallery in London among others. The works are in public collections at the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Yale University Art Gallery.

Together, the Kelleys have discussed their work and their process at the University of Pennsylvania, St. Olaf College, New York University, Columbia University, the Norfolk School of Art, Yale University, Brandeis University and countless others.

The Fellowship is awarded to talented individuals in a variety of fields who have shown exceptional originality in and dedication to their creative pursuits.

Fellows receive $625,000 stipends that are bestowed with no conditions.

Nominated anonymously by leaders in their respective fields and considered by an anonymous selection committee, recipients learn of their selection only when they receive a call from the MacArthur Foundation just before the public announcement.

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