Mary Kelly is an artist who addresses questions of sexuality, identity and memory in the form of large-scale narrative installations.

Artist Bio

From 2000 to the present, Mary Kelly collected an extensive archive of personal reflections on the experience of late life, which she now has edited and organized thematically as the basis for the work’s six sections. Preliminary drawings and prototypes suggest that the project will be manifest in the form of collage, consisting of charts, diagrams, and texts, techniques such as scorching and staining, and materials including wood ash and bone meal. Individual units will be small in scale, engaging the viewer in a quiet, intimate diegetic space, but the cumulative linear extent of the sections as an installation will create the physical sensation of infinite duration, measured in geological, rather than species-centric, time.

Sustainable Development Goals icon

Award Year

In Progress

Mary Kelly, photographed in her studio by her son, the artist, Kelly Barrie

Mary Kelly

Los Angeles, CA

Mary Kelly received the Creative Capital Award in 2024. Kelly studied at St. Martin’s School of Art, London, 1968-1970, where she began her long-term critique of conceptualism, informed by the feminist theory of the early Women’s Movement. Since then, she has addressed questions of sexuality, identity, and memory in the form of large-scale narrative installations such as Post-Partum Document, 1973-79, Interim, 1984-89, Love Songs, 2005-2007, and The Practical Past, 2016-2019. A retrospective of her work was organized by Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester, 2011. Major surveys were presented at Moderna Museet, Stockholm, 2010, Centre for Contemporary Art, Warsaw, 2008, Generali Foundation, Vienna, 1998, Helsinki City Art Museum, 1994, and the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York, 1990. Her work was also featured in Desert X Biennial, 2019, Unlimited, Art Basel, 2016, Biennale of Sydney, 2008, Documenta 12, Kassel, 2007, 2004 Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.

Her publications include Post-Partum Document, University of California Press, 1998, Rereading Post-Partum Document, Generali Foundation, Vienna, 1999, Imaging Desire, MIT Press, Cambridge, 1996, and Dialogue, Iaspis, Stockholm, 2011. In 2015, she was awarded the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship. Currently, she is Judge Widney Professor in the Roski School of Art and Design, University of Southern California.