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Wednesday December 8th

Husband and wife duo bring theatrical films to Hanes Art Center

Mary Reid Kelley and her husband Patrick Kelley create alternate worlds in their theatrical films. Tonight, they are bringing those worlds to UNC’s campus.

The Kelleys are the latest artists to come to campus for the Visiting Artist Lecture Series at Hanes Art Center.

Attend the Lecture

Where: Hanes Art Center, Room 121
When: February 25, 6-7:30pm
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The husband and wife duo creates theatrical short films which are based on both historical and mythological stories. The characters speak entirely in rhymed verse, and the makeup, masks and costumes they wear heighten the artificiality of the performance.

Rather than portray a story that is seen as natural, the formalized rhymed verse and costume opens the audience’s mind to different interpretations of the work.

Reid Kelley, who writes the films’ scripts, said her eyes are always masked and her skin is always covered in makeup when she performs, creating a caricature rather than a fully realized individual. She said the removal of the performer from reality allows a different, usually metaphoric, meaning to fill in gaps in character portrayal.

“Our work is creating a world which is visually separate, and it’s separated by its speech, but just because it’s separate doesn’t mean that it has nothing to do with the world that we live in,” she said.

“What we’re interested in is making a metaphorical relationship, not a literal relationship between the world of our work and the world that we live in.”

She also said that sometimes metaphorical thinking brings forward things that one wouldn’t see if one saw it literally.

Patrick Kelley, who handles most of the filmmaking, described the films as collages, materially. The videos are shot on a green screen, which allows the artists to completely fabricate the background with drawings and paintings. This connects the visual appearance with the highly-stylized figures and enforces the “unreal” language.

He pointed out that while the narratives are based on history, the themes are universal.

“(There is the) notion of something as archaic, both in using poetry and in looking at history — I think to many people (the stories) seem old, but I think that we’re pointing out that they aren’t,” he said.

At the event, the Kelleys will delve into their filmmaking process, as well as screening some full-length short films. They said they look forward to hearing what students have to say.

“We hope people are open to it and are willing to complete that communication between the art and the viewer,” Kelley said.

Cary Levine, professor of contemporary art history, is part of the faculty group which brings these lecturers in. He said the Kelleys tackle unusual issues in unusual ways.

“We try to give our students and our public a cross section of art to tap into,” Levine said.

“They address contemporary issues, but they do it through an aesthetic and the use of narratives that is rooted in the past.”

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