Elisabeth Kley

Elisabeth Kley working in the FWM galleries during installation of “Minutes of Sand”, 2021. Photo credit: Carlos Avendaño.

Known for her distinctive black-and-white ceramic objects, Elisabeth Kley’s work stands at the nexus of pattern, decoration, and play. Kley studied painting in school and later picked up ceramics when her husband signed up for an introductory class in the late ‘90s. He did not much take to the medium, but Kley did. Since then, she has embraced an interdisciplinary practice with the creation of ceramic vessels and objects, drawings, prints, and wall paintings. From 1996 to 2015, Kley also developed a well-established voice as an arts writer and critic while maintaining her studio practice. She published reviews and features in several art publications, including ARTnews, Art in America, and PAJ: A Journal of Performance Art.

From ancient Egyptian art to drag performances, chinoiserie to modern art, Kley draws inspiration from a myriad of global art traditions and other diverse sources. She is deeply tied to the idea of openness, acting as a conduit through which various motifs, patterns, and influences are channeled and transformed. Her work responds to world histories, artistic practices and movements, illustrating the joy that comes from looking.

While in residence at FWM from 2020-2021, Kley expanded her oeuvre to include screenprinting on fabric, designing three different patterns: After Bakst, Edouard Benedictus Lotus, and X’s and Stripes. Her yardage was fashioned into objects for various surfaces, including floor pieces, wall hangings and screen dividers. Culminating in Kley’s first solo museum show, Minutes of Sand, these textile works intermingle with her signature black-and-white ceramics to create a space uniquely hers, defined by bold colors, strong lines, and distinctive forms.

Artist Bio

American, lives in New York, NY.

Elisabeth Kley (b. New York) received her BA from Empire State College and studied at Hunter College. Her ceramics, watercolors, drawings and prints have been featured in an exhibition history spanning over 25 years; recent solo and two-person exhibitions include Garden: Elisabeth Kley and Tabboo!, Gordon Robichaux, New York, NY (2019); Elisabeth Kley, Window on Broad, Rosenwald-Wolf Gallery, University of the Arts, Philadelphia, PA (2019); Flowers Out of Water, Pierre Marie Giraud, Brussels, Belgium (2017); Ozymandias, CANADA, New York, NY (2016); translucent threads of dawn (with Conrad Ventur), Regina Rex, New York, NY (2015); and A Sign of Eternal Beauty (with Florence Derive), GAVLAK, Palm Beach, FL (2015). She is represented by CANADA; the gallery published a monograph on her work with Pre-Echo Press in 2019. In 2023, The Fabric Workshop and Museum and the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts co-published Minutes of Sand, celebrating her traveling exhibition resulting from her FWM residency.