Artist Spotlight: Kelly Yarbrough
My study of the tallgrass prairie in Kansas started when I moved to Manhattan in 2013. There, I found many people who know the beauty and power of the Flint Hills. But, there are many more people who only have a superficial knowledge of Kansas – based on an I-70 drive-through/fly-over kind of experience. To an ignorant eye, the prairie can mistakenly be characterized by what it lacks-- mountains and trees, for example. But, I quickly found eyes for the abundance of life and energy in the prairie. Its buzzing textures, dense fibers, and complex systems of interdependence all inspire me, and exploring these truths has become my study and my passion.
Formally, I create work all along the spectrum of realism and abstraction. But, conceptually, I am most interested in the tangible elements of a landscape that point to the beyond. In an essay from 1976, pioneering land artist Robert Smithson wrote, “We cannot take a one-sided view of the landscape.” He argued that a particular place, “cannot be seen as a ‘thing in itself’, but rather a process of ongoing relationships existing on a physical region.”
This attitude is a driving force to my art practice. My works are visual products of a sustained drawing process, born of my ongoing relationship with the prairie.