Kelly Spivey

 Trips we took: (highly recommended)

·      West Elk Loop

·      Hermit’s Trail

·      Eagle Rock Shelter Petroglyphs

·      Black Canyon: 


The community:

Paonia is an interesting, historical town, with some residents who have stayed on here for at least four generations. These families have worked hard producing fruit, mining coal or both. As the “Inspired: Art at Work,” socially engaged artists were in residence while I was at Elsewhere, I had the opportunity to learn more about the community than I would have on my own. As these artists, John K. Melvin and Anna Macleod, met locals, went to town hall meetings, spoke to farmers, and attended local church services, my views were broadened as well. Water and irrigation in a droughted valley, became touchstones for possible community building, across political, social, and religious differences.


My time in Paonia was spent taking a deep dive into an autobiographical work that uses animation and non-narrative filmmaking - woven together in an essay film. This is the first iteration of a project that will become a live performance piece. I used my time to sort through a collection of personal photographs, archival film and documentary footage. The documentary footage was shot several years ago when I re-united with my childhood friend, Kathy. The reunion was illuminating, yet ended in as much psychic pain as I think I’ve ever felt. I spent the last several years trying to make sense of this in terms of the time period we grew up and how the socio-political realities may have caused us take on such different paths in life.

The essay film I’m editing together, calls into question many things, including the nature of photography and its powerful role in shaping memory and even identity. My family took very few photographs, and they lace my memory and perception of myself as “truth” as I have little else to go on. I recognize the faulty mirage. I use the photographs in my work anyway, while I probe to find other ways to define our history.

The opportunity to make work in a new place, with a different climate, culture, relationship to time, and heat, along with the rich learning that can be had when different artists rub elbows while producing their work, can be quite enriching!