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Keltie Ferris at Pace Prints

Pace Prints is pleased to present Spill Spell, an exhibition of unique works by Keltie Ferris on view April 12 – May 11, 2024, at 536 West 22nd Street. This presentation will focus on works made at the Pace Paper studio in Gowanus, Brooklyn between 2022 and 2024. 

Keltie Ferris is interested in the expression of materials through the manipulation of elements.  Notably, handmade paper involves a large amount of one major element: water. In his first print experiments making blowout drawings, Ferris takes a unique approach to papermaking by physically drawing with water using a hose as an instrument to spray a wet sheet, obscuring any hard lines with layers of pigmented fibers. Through this process, the artist can create gestural water drawings at bodily scale, each layer providing opportunities to create varying depths of tones.

These unique works celebrate the intensity of pigment inherent in the paper-making process through non-representational expressions of color moved by water. In his pigment dispersions, Keltie Ferris uses water as a tool for suspension and timing. He worked with master papermaker Rachel Gladfelter to place pigments such as magenta, yellow ochre, and his signature iridescent silver in abaca fibers and disperse them with water, often moving them with a spatula as the sheet slowly drains. Once completed, the sheet is transferred from the paper mold face down, in a process called couching. The artist does not see the finished work until it is pressed and dry a few days later, invoking the element of surprise. 

The rebellious nature of water makes controlling it impossible, but Ferris finds joy in the spontaneous improvisations necessary to work with the element instead of against it. Given the short amount of time allowed for their creation, the works inspire freedom of play in a burst of action from the artist. Because each image is created in real time by the artist in this way, they are all unique and can never be repeated.

Keltie Ferris’ experience at the paper studio has expanded his creative exploration of material, and paper pulp has become another important facet of his artistic practice alongside painting.