Confetti Crackle Pop — Kelly Kozma at Paradigm Gallery + Studio


[Kitty admires the intricacy of Kelly Kozma’s work, and the surprising spontaneity that goes hand-in-hand with it. — the artblog editors]

Workshop vibes

Walking into Paradigm Gallery + Studio, it takes a moment for your eyes to adjust to Kelly Kozma’s installation.

Kelly Kozma, Confetti, Crackle, Pop, at Paradigm Gallery, installation detail.
Kelly Kozma, Confetti Crackle Pop at Paradigm Gallery, installation detail.

Piles of punched-out paper scraps lie on the edges and corners of the floor, jars of latex paint are piled amid “stuff” on a small table, a yellow plastic chain hangs by a window, an overwhelming collection of more than 75!!! artworks dots the wall.

Fortunately, Kozma separated the small, like-minded works by painting colored dashes on the wall around the different groupings, an esthetic decision that aids viewers.

In the Queen Village gallery at 746 S. 4th St., Kozma wanted the exhibit, Confetti Crackle Pop, to look like her studio, where she uses embroidery, paint, collage, stencils, layering, grids, colored paper discs, wood panels, canvas, and “found” vintage frames in her art practice. All that is missing in the installation is her dice (more about that studio “tool” below).

Kelly Kozma, Confetti, Crackle, Pop, at Paradigm Gallery, installation detail.
Kelly Kozma, Confetti Crackle Pop, at Paradigm Gallery, installation detail.

Microscopic method

Possessed with unbounded, concentrated energy, the artist uses a meticulous, all-consuming technique. She punches thousands of paper discs with a hole puncher, separates the discs by color, and then tediously stitches the tiny discs together into grids–linking top, bottom, left, and right–with French knots. Thousands of teeny-tiny knots.

When gallery co-owner Jason Chen tried to make one egg-shaped French knot, it took him two hours.

As if to counteract the exacting nature of creating these grids, both large and small, she uses chance–throwing dice to choose a color–drawing on a tradition of using “chance” in art, as did Marcel Duchamp, John Cage, and others.

Kelly Kozma, Together Now, 32.375” x 37.375”, punched business cards hand-stitched together, 2014.
Kelly Kozma, “Together Now” (2014), 32.375” x 37.375”, punched business cards hand-stitched together.

“Together Now,” a large grid of punched business cards hand-stitched together, looks as if it is floating in its frame, as does the equally large “Hotel Lobby”. This is another “fool-the-eye trick” in a tradition of fooling art viewers dating back two millennia.

Detail of Together Now.
Detail of “Together Now”.

Getting loopy

Kozma is reinterpreting Pointillism, using the punched-out holes from paper, much like the renowned African-American artist Howardena Pindell of Philadelphia did in 1977.

However, Pindell’s work, “Untitled No. 89,” is composed of stacked colored paper discs, oil pastel, glitter, cardboard, and acrylic paint. It appeared earlier this year in the exhibit, Represent: 200 Years of African American Art, at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Kelly Kozma, Confetti, Crackle, Pop, at Paradigm Gallery, installation detail.
Kelly Kozma, Confetti Crackle Pop, at Paradigm Gallery, installation detail.

“This body of work came out of my own deconstruction. Loss, suffering, illness. This exhibition tells the story of how I put myself back together, stitch-by-stitch,” according to Kozma’s artist statement.

It’s interesting how Kozma’s 75-plus works go from precise, tight, and modulated (as with the grids), to a series of five six-inch square stenciled paintings, all called “Blue (needs) Orange,” numbered I through V, as if opposite colors on the color wheel need each other to survive.

Kelly Kozma, Unplug It and Plug It Back In, 72” x 48”, latex paint, spray paint, netting, gloss medium on canvas, 2014.
Kelly Kozma, “Unplug It and Plug It Back In” (2014), 72” x 48”, latex paint, spray paint, netting, gloss medium on canvas.

And finally to Kozma’s largest work at 72 inches wide by 48 inches high, a light, airy, whimsical painting titled “Unplug It and Plug It Back In,” that is vaguely reminiscent of Elizabeth Murray’s cartoonish takes on domestic objects.

Though the work was once a dense, multicolored painting of various shapes and colors, Kozma used a construction-deconstruction technique to modify “Unplug/Plug”. The work took its present form when the artist placed both wide and narrow yellow chains across the painting and outlined them in undulating widths. Then, she painted out most of the canvas in white, leaving the underpainting pulsating in fat and skinny, colorful squiggles with an electric plug at one end. It is a tour de force.

The exhibit expresses the moods of a woman in transition, who uses her intellect and her artistic skills to express her inner life in an esthetic manner. Her works vary greatly in size and price–from a one-color, five-inch, square postcard-painting at $50 to the six-foot-long “Unplug/Plug” painting at $3,800. (By mid-exhibit, she had sold 17 pieces.)

Earlier this year, the gallery partners took three of Kozma’s works in colorful embroidery, latex, and spray paint, which feature spatial abstract elements on rag paper, to Scope Miami Beach Art Fair. Slightly larger than 12 inches square, these three paintings, “Rosy,” “Quest,” and “Change” are included in the exhibit.

On June 26, Paradigm Gallery + Studio will host a closing reception for Kozma, a 2010 graduate of Moore College of Art, from 5 pm to 10 pm.

Confetti Crackle Pop runs from May 22 – July 11, 2015 at Paradigm Gallery + Studio. The space is open on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays from noon to 6 pm.


arts & culture, confetti crackle pop, Kelly Kozma, paradigm gallery, philadelphia



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