As a mother and a maker, Kelsey Grafton is drawn to issues of stewardship, home, family heritage, and the impact humans have on the world. She is an award-winning artist and illustrator working with local, national, and international clients and currently serves as an Assistant Professor of Art at Lewis-Clark State College in her hometown of Lewiston, ID. She earned her BFA in Illustration from Cornish College of the Arts in 2001, and after spending a decade in the Seattle area, traveled the globe experiencing diverse cultures. Her time in Africa, where she worked with the African Child Foundation’s Women’s Empowerment Program teaching handcrafts and developing programs to secure sustainable incomes for families in need, inspired her use of texture to capture and hold memory in a tangible form. Grafton previously served as the Exhibit and Programming Coordinator at Lewis-Clark State College Center for Arts & History and earned her MFA from the University of Idaho in 2021.
"Remnant" three views
"Becoming," ceramic, organic materials, found objects, and conviction, 8.3ft x 3ft x 5ft, 2021
view of "Becoming"
"Morphosis," ceramic & organic found object, 16in x 4in x 2.5in, 2019
"Morphosis," detail of interior
My work is a series of place-based responsive works investigating my family homestead, in Colville, WA, where my great-grandparents settled in 1905 after emigrating from Germany. I hand-harvest earthenware clay, pull textures from fallen structures, and gather artifacts left behind by my ancestors as a way to preserve our fading family history through art-making.
The homestead property has been under increased threats of wildfire and in response, tree thinning has been used as a preventative measure. This act was devastating and we have spent the past several years clearing and burning slash piles. As the years pass, new growth has begun: time and circumstance will tell if these measures were worth their efforts. The Trees of Morrow series is an allegory for our interconnected relationship with our natural resources. In it, I seek to lend a kindred voice to the trees, in hopes that we might see ourselves tied to their fate. If we fail as stewards of our collective ecosystem, we will all suffer the consequences.
more from Kelsey's perspective
Creating Mourning Smoke,
Plein Air: Kegel Family Homestead, 6in x 6in, 2021
Kelsey: "Before dawn, I hiked out to capture the sunrise over the homestead. The mourning sky was salmon pink. Ash sprinkled my pallet from the nearby wildfires on the Colville Reservation. I tried to appreciate the warm cast for the beauty it was, rather than the beauty it should be."
Kelsey pulling textures from the sawed end of a weathered log on the homestead.
Kelsey pushing clay into the weathered knots of the fallen tool shed on the Kegel Family Homestead.
Kelsey with her kids, Marlow (left) and Molly (right) on The Rock at the Homestead: “They are my inspiration and my ‘why.’”