Since childhood, the idea of the universe and infinity excited me. How can the universe go on forever? How was it created and why? In college, I immersed myself with these questions and many more as I passionately studied astronomy. Today, these astronomical wonders still intrigue me and inspire me as I create my art.
My art making practice consists of ripping, cutting and folding thousands and thousands of individual pieces of paper and rhythmically adhering them to a canvas. Creating my art is a slow, soothing and repetitive process. While I work, I meditate on cosmic mysteries, not just about the vastness of space (or the stars and planets), but also about our place and purpose in the universe.
“The cosmos is within us. We are made of star-stuff. We are a way for the universe to know itself.” – Carl Sagan.
Ladd is a self-taught artist who grew up in Orlando and graduated from the University of Central Florida with a Liberal Studies degree with a focus in astronomy and creative writing. Before becoming a full-time artist, she worked as a parade performer at Disney World and an editor and prop stylist for Parenting magazine. All the while, she was painting in her spare time mostly for self-expression
The catalyst that pushed her to work with paper was when her husband, who has Lyme disease, developed a condition called Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, which made him severely allergic to chemicals, including paint. Today, she channels her creative process through paper – ripping, cutting and folding it into visions of her meditations, and connecting her internal thoughts onto her art pieces incorporating the great wonders of the astronomical universe through name and form.
Her work responds to themes of light and darkness, cosmic energy, and cycles that are intended to introspective and celestial at the same moment. Combining her admiration for understanding the universe and self, Ladd explores connections between space, time and our many roles within it.
Ladd’s ability to create tangible configurations full of texture and dimension align her with the artistic legacies of Jacob Hashimoto, Crystal Wagner, Chun Kwang Young and Francesca Pasquali.
- Watch Kelly as she describes her art, her inspiration and the reason she works with paper.
- Learn more about Kelly, her art and process.
- Hear Mennello Museum of American Art curator Katherine Navarro talk about Kelly’s work.
- Hear curator Dr. Rangook Yoon discuss the exhibit Metamorphosis, which features Sun K. Kwak, Maya Gelfman and Kelly Joy Ladd.