Pandemic, The Light Therein
International Virtual Art Exhibition Series
Keely Houk is an artist, graphic designer, cartoonist, and writer. She is currently the Senior Graphic Designer of St. Mary’s College of Maryland, and a freelance designer & illustrator. She’s won gold, silver, and bronze awards for her design in the Collegiate Advertising Awards, and the Educational Advertising Awards, and has also received a CASE Circle of Excellence Gold for her graphic design work. She was featured in the St. Mary’s County Community Development Corporation’s Gallery-V Exhibition “Quarantine Dreams” for her artwork titled “Not Quite Spring.” She’s been published on comiXology for her self written and illustrated graphic novel, Conducted. She’s also been included the The Great Courses: Great American Short Story: A Guide for Readers and Writers, which was featured in the New York Times. Her illustrations have also been published in The Mulberry Tree.
As an artist, Keely Houk specifically focuses on the relationship between narrative and image within her pieces, as well as the boundary between graphic design and contemporary art. Her work explores the difference between virtual spaces and real life, and experiments with the relationship between the viewer and the subject. She draws her influence from multiple artists & art movements, including Malika Favre, Tom Haugomat, Diana Ejaita, Christoph Niemann, pop art, editorial design, and contemporary graphic design. She uses an array of techniques and software to produce her work, including drawing with pen and paper, and the Adobe Creative Suite.
Keely’s recent work was created during the pandemic as she was lived in a small space with her partner, while both worked remotely. In the panic of the pandemic—unable to be certain of job security, of family health status, and of the outside world, Keely explores the solace of the digital world, specifically through art in her current pieces. There is shelter in the process of art: stuck inside, encountering the work and personal world exclusively through a digital space, the art that we create is affected by the lonely nature of our digital world. Each piece interposes the organic shapes of natural things, such as flowers and water, and juxtaposes them with bright, saturated colors and optical lines to represent the solace of the digital world—of social media. Each piece is meant to represent the cage, fleetingness, consumerism, of social media, while also recognizing that for many of us, specifically the artist, this space was the only way to escape the emotions and panic of the pandemic and the problems of our every day life. Each piece is deliberately sized as a square to replicate the Facebook and Instagram optimal ratios for viewing art.
Each piece was crafted as sketched on paper with ink, and then created digitally using the pen and brush tool in Adobe Illustrator, using a combination of design techniques as well as manual illustrating techniques using a graphics pad. Each piece has a limited color palette.
The clinical line work of the digital art is supposed to represent both the separation between the viewer and the artist, as well as the sensation of the loneliness of the art, despite its bright and saturated nature.
St. Charles, Maryland
United States of America
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