Shadow Boxes

Shadow Boxes

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My boxes are fashioned to honor nature. Some of these constructions contain hand carved birds - painted or of plain wood - that perch on a nest or contemplate a journey. These wooden boxes are built around simple but curious scenes, most of which are birds in their environment. Created to invite contemplation, they are filled with feathers, sticks, woven nests, dragonflies or wooden eggs. Some of the works are designed to hang on the wall, while others are more interactive - requiring the viewer to participate by lifting the lid, peaking through an opening or opening a drawer to experience the contents intimately. These shadow boxes for nature may resemble reliquaries, repositories for relics that speak to the viewer about appreciation, adoration and respect. However, in my works it is out of respect for the nature world. I also intend parallels to be pondered regarding our own existence - how beautifully fragile and brief is the physical connection to the spiritual realm.

New material for the constructions would not do. The wood for these constructions had to have a shared history - to have felt the weather and served a purpose. The wood was largely taken from an abandoned schoolhouse built in the late 1800's. There is a sort of magic in a piece of wood that hundreds of children walked under every day for nearly 100 years. To me this is a truth. There is good wood, good feelings, and a magical presence attached to some intimate objects. I believe this about my boxes. The wood has a rural quality about it, something that feels familiar. With common material and subject, I am delivering messages, simplified and translated into parallels.

They are between all living things and the dreams that connect us all. The magic of life is about living your dream, living honestly and with a spiritual connection.

Excerpt from a Pioneer Press review of Kellie Rae's Prayer Boxes by Thomas O'Sullivan:

Kellie Rae Theiss' nature-based artworks take viewers outside the gallery, outside the city, to closer encounters than the typical landscape painting. A Nebraska farm girl turned big-city gallerist, Theiss has long devoted her academic painting style to Midwestern nature. In her current exhibition, Theiss enters a new element, showing wall-hung and tabletop constructions that combine paintings and carvings with nests and branches inside wood boxes she has found or made. The box format allows Theiss to play painted illusions of space and substance against literal enclosed spaces, some housing actual branches and carved bird forms. "Lock and Key," a simple foot-wide box painted in warm sunshine hues, features five dragonflies. Three are painted, and two are actual specimens she has varnished for permanence, inviting the viewer to compare her painting with the subject painted. Faint pencil lines hint at her painstaking technique of sanding, drawing and painting that undergirds the apparently rustic boxes.

"This is a little bit about romanticizing what we've lost," Theiss observes. Her work draws on not just the natural world she researched songbirds at the Bell Museum, among other places, to hone her representations but also on the human, built environment as well. Century-old wood from a dismantled schoolhouse near Theiss' cabin supplied the weather-textured boards on which she paints birds and mounts nests. Old wood cheese boxes with ghostly lettering become reliquaries for carved bird forms and eggs, with painted skies decorating their interiors. The gifts of friends and family members, the wood "has a history, like most of us," she says. In her gentle transformations, Theiss has filled these cast-off materials with skill and feeling.

Bird Paintings & Artwork - Bird Paintings Insects, Amphibians & Aquatic Plant Paintings & Artwork - Animal & Nature Paintings

Fish Paintings & Artwork - Fish Paintings