Kelly Sheridan is an artist and illustrator who recently moved from Virginia to Idaho. Her work is inspired by physical and emotional relationships with nature, and she often plays with the sublime aspects of nature and to shift our perception of it.
We’re drawn to the surreal landscapes Kelly creates. Inspired by the Tetons, her series “Melting Landscapes” features dreamy colors and bending lines that challenge the way we see nature and our human connection to it.
Contrast soft undulating blue mounds to sharp stunning grey peaks. That’s all I could do this August. I recently packed all my belongings into my Rav-4 and moved from the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia to Idaho Falls, Idaho just west of the Tetons – an area where I had never been and had no connections. The mountains were the only constant, although they were strikingly different from those of the East. Mountains are my main source of inspiration. Since I moved my artwork has evolved with me to reflect the changing landscape.
I lived between the Blue Ridge and the Appalachian Mountains, known for their abundant deciduous trees, mountain streams, and summer rhododendron. It was hard to leave the welcoming landscape that I trusted and knew so well. The Teton Mountain Range, which is just over an hour’s drive from my new home across the Idaho/Wyoming border, is my new playground. Although the prestige of the rocky peaks and steep canyons present themselves as unattainable and dangerous, they are an inviting challenge to artists and explorers alike. The light can be captured and the elevation can be conquered. The terrain, animals, and climate are markedly more rugged than the east coast. The heightened element of danger is delightfully harrowing.
Immediately following my move in early August, my paintings began to reflect my wonder of the Tetons. This year, I have been working on an ongoing series that I call Melting Landscapes. These landscapes describe how I encourage my mind to melt into this comfortable valley of appreciation and complete the cycle between the sky, the earth, and me. When I am painting melting landscapes I augment and exaggerate those connections. I add in colors that aren’t ‘really there’ but they are if you are looking for them.
These [melting] landscapes describe how I encourage my mind to melt… and complete the cycle between the sky, the earth, and me.
I want my work to be a commentary on the state of nature and how it is affected by global warming. The melting is a very literal reference to this. I also wanted to subtly reference the loss of identity that landscapes would experience as they melt down into an uncharacteristic blob of color, it loses its uniqueness as a result of global warming. I also mean melting in a more metaphorical sense as in the space you enter when you let your eyes glaze over and stare into the landscape before you.
The Tetons have inspired me to change how I think about my interactions with the land and human impacts on the landscape. The nine paintings I selected for this collection are inspired by the Teton Range, and illustrate the awe and kinship I have formed with the mountains.
Photos courtesy of Kelly Sheridan