Lewisburg artist chosen for fellowship

Tina Alvey, The Register-Herald, Beckley, W.Va.
·2 min read

Apr. 11—Tamarack Foundation for the Arts (TFA) has awarded a slot in its 2021 Emerging Artist Fellowship program to Lewisburg artist/activist Kelsie Tyson.

Emerging Artist Fellows are thriving early-career artists who demonstrate a superior level of mastery and an aptitude to become successful creative professionals, according to a TFA media release. Chosen by an independent committee of master artists and arts leaders, fellows contribute to the foundation's mission of growing West Virginia's economy by empowering promising creatives.

Tyson is a multimedia artist who uses photography, fiber, ceramics and large installations to pursue a visual exploration of body image, sexuality and the intersections between them.

"My work deals with body liberation and how Appalachian people and their bodies have been exploited," she said. "I want to be part of the arts growing in West Virginia."

Tyson recently received a master of fine arts degree in ceramics and glass from Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia, according to her website (www.kelsietyson.com). The website indicates that she aims "to brighten folks' understanding of body size, shape and color through the history and representations of fatness in Appalachia."

While in art school, Tyson worked multiple jobs to put herself through school and gathered materials for art projects at thrift stores, a Tamarack for the Arts newsletter notes.

"I grew up in West Virginia and was taught to be resourceful," Tyson said. "My grandmother started writing a book about her life, and we found it after she passed. There was a story about how she got her new school clothes. Her dad was paid 35 cents a day for care-taking a Pocahontas County farm, and she would ride with him to pick out the feed sacks for the farm. She picked out which fabrics she liked, and later she and her mom and her aunt would use them to sew her school clothes."

Each Tamarack Foundation for the Arts fellowship includes a stipend and continuing access to professional skill-building in the areas of branding, marketing and technology as well as valuable connections with a community of successful creatives in the Mountain State.

Other artists named TFA fellows in 2021 are Brandy Jefferys of Cabell County, Suzan Ann Morgan of Upshur County, Emily Prentice of Randolph County and Nichole Westfall and Blake Wheeler, both of Kanawha County.

— Email: talvey@register-herald.com