Ripe with nostalgia for her adolescent dreams and their intriguing distance from her current desires, Kelly Parsell creates an unexpected atmosphere of both longing and tension. Here, iconic childhood objects serve as mementos for all that was lost long ago and the complicated emotions that still pulse between that time and now. While at first glance, Parsell’s work resembles the interior of a girl’s bedroom with whimsical playthings and a colorful palette, upon further investigation, it reveals a much darker liminal space.
Through the process of gathering materials—collected objects from her own youth as well as those found in secondhand stores—Parsell finds comfort in and gives meaning to both savored and discarded remnants of adolescence, often attaching more worth to the objects then they originally held. By manipulating, reproducing, and appropriating stuffed animals, sleeping bags, and children’s books, Parsell blurs the lines of past and present, constructing a fuzzy world of contradictions and nostalgia for a past shared by her generation and gender. This past is playful, carefree, innocent, and filled with unrestricted dreams. It is unconcerned with the body and unafraid of what lies ahead. Free of adulthood pressures, it is a simpler, and possibly happier, time.
But the image of this past is also at times artificial, built upon unreliable memories and an untrustworthy yearning for dreams no longer desired. Like memory, her world is not solid; it wavers when new stories are heard and pictures are seen. It is fluid and communal, often altered by new people. In Muddled Dreams, Parsell invites the viewer to travel with her from an unimagined future to a past that, quite possibly, never was.
2015, Muddled Dreams