Kelly Mathews was born in a small town in Iowa from where she launched her dual pursuits of art and Arabian horses. After graduating from the Kansas City Art Institute with a B.F.A, she spent the next twenty-two years training and showing Arabian horses. In 2014, she retired from the show ring and dedicated herself to her art on a full-time basis. She is best known for her use of encaustic and photography and her work addresses social and political issues head-on. She has exhibited in solo shows, juried competitions, group shows and her work is in many private collections.

Kelly Mathews

STAY THIRSTY: How would you describe your work?

KELLY MATHEWS: My work is a visual reaction to our absurd inability to relate to each other simply as human beings. We inherently register race, sex, age and ethnicity before we delve beneath the surface to the core of who someone is.

STAY THIRSTY: You are known for your use of encaustic as a medium of expression. Why did you choose to work that way?

KELLY MATHEWS: By working with encaustic [the use of pigments mixed with hot wax burned into an inlay],  I am able to build many layers, just as there are many layers to every one of us. As you move closer and look deeper, you are able to see the whole picture, just as you must get to know someone on the inside to truly know who they are.

Stay Thirsty Magazine is pleased to present Kelly Mathews’ encaustic work entitled “Lady Liberty,” along with a reading by the award-winning author and storyteller Gerald Hausman of Emma Lazarus’s most famous sonnet, “The New Colossus,” that was written in 1883 and cast into a bronze plaque that resides inside the pedestal of the Statute of Liberty on Liberty Island in New York Harbor.

The New Colossus read by Gerald Hausman

"Lady Liberty" by Kelly Mathews


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