Monday, February 12, 2018

I Believe In Artists: Kelly Boler

Paper Artist Kelly Boler

I think all artists are story tellers and that visual art is a way for us to tell stories that are beyond what words can convey.  In the case of Kelly Boler's art, however, stories aren't just an outcome but also her medium.  I am fascinated by how she assembles new stories and mysteries from the bits and pieces of old and faded ones and I know you will be too.


Paper Collage by Kelly Boler

Question: I know art speaks its own language but if you had to describe your work in only six words, what would they be?

Kelly:  Vintage book and paper ephemera assemblage.

Assemblage Art By Kelly Boler

Question: Who is your favorite artist (in any medium) and how do they inspire you?

Kelly: No one comes close to Cy Twombly. It’s as if his asemic writings are poems and prayers he scribbles madly to God. I have travelled to several different countries to see his work. It always makes me want to fly from the altar rail.

Joseph Cornell’s boxes are especially moving as he did not create them for posterity. He just made them for friends and himself. And Lauren Bacall, but she returned the one he sent her in a fan letter.

Maira Kalman. I am obsessed with her faux-primitive style of drawing that is really notetaking, her wise observations about the ordinary that is anything but, her wit, and her sweetness.

Paper Rose by Kelly Boler

Question: What inspires you to create?

Kelly: Antique volumes, old maps, vintage paper, and ephemera gathered from flea markets and street stalls around the world. Historic materials, such as hand-calligraphed letters from the mid-19th century, cabinet photos from the Victorian era, 1920s postcards, and a wide variety of faded, fascinating postage stamps, tickets stubs, tintypes, library cards, advertising – anything that evokes an older, more mysterious world. I guess it is not so much inspiration as an attempt at summoning, although I am far from sure what. 

Collage Art By Kelly Boler

Question: What is your favorite part of your creative process?

Kelly: Wow. Most of it, but the thing I love most is looking for the stuff because I kind of believe it is looking for me. Roaming through flea markets, box lots at auctions, old book stores, thrift stores; knowing that the treasure is out there waiting for me to find it, that we are connected somehow. 

Question: What is the most challenging part of your creative process and how do you meet that challenge?

Kelly: At this point of my life, the biggest creative challenge comes when I know that I am supposed to be doing something different and untried. It is tough to take that first step into the psychic void; I can see it but for the life of me I can't see how to get there from here. I become so creatively paralysed that I do almost anything to postpone beginning, from repeating myself stylewise in my art, to organising every darn drawer in the house and sorting out my Tupperware lids.

Apparently this is normal as we are biologically hardwired to avoid new, and from an evolutionary standpoint, risky things; but biology be darned. The best antidote to lethal hesitation is just to begin and to allow myself to do it wrong; to remember that I have plenty of erasers. Once I have squinched up my eyes, jumped, and boldly made that first bad page, I am off and running. I can cross that idea off the list and hey, presto, five more have arrived in its place. It can take weeks to find out that three of these are not going anywhere, one is somewhat promising, and one is genius. From there, it blooms. Or it doesn't. But being able and willing to learn from doing it wrong, hopefully with grace, style, and a sense of humour, is all there is.

Assemblage Art By Kelly Boler

Question: And finally, what does "believing in art" mean to you?

Kelly: Annie Dillard wrote, “We are here to abet creation and to witness it, to notice each thing so each thing gets noticed…so that creation need not play to an empty house.” 

I believe in art because of this, because of the need for the universe to express itself and its need for witnesses; we who create are all that it has in the toolbox to accomplish this. I believe deeply that this doesn’t have to be Art with a capital “A,” that anyone who expresses themselves, however awkwardly or imperfectly, is abetting creation, which is why giving yourself and others the permission to begin no matter what is vital.

Thank you Kelly for sharing your art and insights with us.

Kelly Boler is a book and paper artist working in Wales. She also keeps a mean illustrated journal. Her work is held in private collections in the U.S., the U.K., France, Israel, Finland, and Switzerland. She also leads popular workshops in a variety of creative fields including book binding, paste paper making, and illustrated journal techniques. Recently her works were exhibited at the Center for the Book Arts in Minnesota, the Halton Hills Cultural Center in Ontario, the Marin Museum for Contemporary Arts in San Francisco, and the book village Hay-on-Wye in Wales.

For more information, visit her website at

You can also connect with Kelly on Instagram through her art account @book.and.paper.arts or her fashion gallery @fedoras.and.pearls

Click here to find more artist interviews and learn how you can apply to be featured.  You can also connect with I Believe In Art on Instagram and Facebook.

Until next time, happy creating!

Peace, Love and Art,

1 comment:

  1. Thank you! I love Kelly's element of timelessness! Beautiful!