The smells and sounds produced by fireworks continue to fill me with an invigorating sense of nostalgia and inspiration. I will never forget my childhood memories of the unique marks and colors left by the fireworks we ignited on my uncle’s driveway every Fourth of July. Inspired by these memories and feelings, I rediscovered fireworks as a mark-making medium during my early education at the Kansas City Art Institute.
Fireworks ignite a part of the human psyche that is innately curious and captivated by irregular light and movement. I am studying to gain a better understanding of people’s reaction to fireworks and to compare these findings to my own interests and personal history. My continued fascination with fireworks manifests my belief that childhood interests must be deliberately nurtured rather than disregarded, because they are sincere and unjaded. My art practice allows me to connect with the childlike sense of sublime and openness that was progressively forgotten as I became an adult. I archive the ephemeral beauty of fireworks through multiple mediums: glass, plexiglass, canvas, paper, ceramics, digital imagery, videography, and performance, but my most recent series, Spiritual Renderings, was created using smoke bombs on canvas. This series is a more refined version of my artistic process and an exploration into the juxtaposition of fireworks as a gentle art form. Unlike traditional pyrotechnics, my work explores novelty fireworks as delicate and serene rather than erratic and forceful. Through fluid, atmospheric images, I provide a subtle experience of meditative sublime, similar to what I feel while creating the work. These Spiritual Renderings express the evolution of my own spiritual life and the recent progress I have made. During the COVID-19 lockdown, I got sober, improved my diet, made commitments to charity, and began studying Ethics, Buddhism, and Stoicism. 2020 was a difficult year that resulted in profound spiritual growth for me, which organically influenced the aesthetic of my works on canvas. Nostalgia and spirituality are intrinsic, yet mysterious and not easily defined. They are deeply individualistic, sacred, human experiences. These transcendental occurrences are closely linked through their sublime nature and ephemerality. Nostalgic contemplation and spiritual growth enlighten my art practice, which continues to evolve with my understanding of these concepts and their convergence.
Kyle Selley (b. 1992) is a Kansas City-based artist best known for his Firework Residue Paintings which explore ideas surrounding nostalgia, spirituality, and the sublime. KC Studio Magazine has referred to his flatwork as “naturally celestial and suggestive of infinite space.” Selley builds composition playfully and intuitively. He utilizes mediums such as videography, digital imagery, performance, ceramics, works on paper, works on canvas, and works on glass. Selley’s work set a new precedent in artistic techniques incorporating firework residue. He has been nourishing a relationship with fireworks since early childhood and was using them in creative and experimentative ways long before he felt compelled to create traditional artwork. He is currently represented by SNW Gallery and Leawood Fine Art Gallery. He is sponsored by Dominator Fireworks in Beijing, China. Selley graduated from Johnson County Community College with an Associate of Arts degree, studied sculpture and ceramics at the University of Tasmania, and graduated from the Kansas City Art Institute with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.
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