Born and raised on the Southside of Chicago, Illinois, Kelly Ciurej obtained her BA in Art and Design from St. Xavier University in 2013, where she became particularly focused on photography and digital manipulations. In 2014 Ciurej left Chicago and started graduate school in Hawai’i.
Through the use of photographs, performance, artificial materials, and digital printing processes, she is interested in the ways in which photographs distort memories and instead create invented realities. Ciurej has worked with several non-profit organizations including the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and Maine Media Workshops + College. She has been exhibited nationally in the USA in both group and solo shows, recently including the Hawai’i State Art Museum, the South East Center for Photography (S.C), and the Visual Arts Center Gallery in Chicago, Illinois. She received her MFA from the University of Hawai’i at Manoa.
Kelly Ciurej is currently based in Honolulu, Hawai’i.
About ‘Artificial Sweetener‘:
Artificial Sweetener is a series that explores the notion of psychological “stickiness”. In these photographs, I use food materials that are largely glutinous—candies, pastries, and sugary treats— to explore the stickiness of certain psychological spaces that are internalized from familial experiences. The substances I use are often heavy, sweet, sugar-based confections, widely used in processed foods as well as within the household setting for baked goods. This material serves as a stand in for an inescapable, smothering stickiness of the psychological and emotional spaces I am photographically exploring. Artificial Sweetener is a way to visually explore and re-contextualize the shifting systems that are present within a nuclear family— to question an assumed knowledge of the past and the invented realities we often create for ourselves and for others.