This week, we sat down with Kelsie Kahl, who talked about studying design at the University of Illinois and what role Krannert Art Museum played in her experience on campus.
KAM: Hi Kelsie. Why don't we start with a little introduction... tell us what you're studying at the U of I.
Kelsie: Sure. I'm a senior in Industrial design.
KAM: That must be pretty exciting...
Kelsie: Well, it can feel exciting, but it's also kinda scary. Senior year is really busy and it's almost time to make choices about where I'll be after graduation.
KAM: Is there an internship component to your program that will give you an idea of what type of work you might do?
Kelsie: Yeah, this summer I actually had an internship at Surge-Innovations in Chicago. I helped design branded promotional items, packaging, and products that are used as giveaways for marketing campaigns.
KAM: Has your time studying Industrial Design brought you in contact with the museum?
Kelsie: Sure. When you start out in the School of Art and Design, everyone spends time developing a broad range of skills. During my "Foundations" courses, I spent time in the museum studying works of art. Sometimes we would sit and study just one painting and draw from it. I also took several art history classes, and almost all of them used work in the museum.
KAM: Are there certain galleries or types of art that have interested you the most?
Kelsie: I think I've spent the most time in Encounters: The Arts of Africa. I just like the mix of contemporary art and things that might be more "traditional" in that gallery. It's helpful to see art objects that have stories behind them, because lots of the pieces in the African Gallery were made to be used in some way. Maybe they had a practical use or could be part of rituals. I like the idea of creating something beautiful that is meant to be used... Plus, the art in Encounters is from a completely different culture, so it has broadened my experience and knowledge of art from different places.
KAM: Since you're used to designing in three dimensions, are you are drawn to sculpture and objects, rather than paintings?
Kelsie: Actually the artwork I like best is a painting over in the Bow Gallery. My Art History courses were focused on European and American art, and so I've spent a lot of time exploring the Bow and Trees Galleries. But there is one painting here, by Camille Pissarro, Statue d'Henri IV, matin, soleil d'hiver (Statue of Henri-IV, Morning, Winter Sunlight) — as part of an Art History class, we studied the painting and learned that Pissarro painted several of just this view, because it he looked at it from the window of his apartment.
I had a chance to do an Art History trip to Paris not long ago, and we studied art at the Louvre. When the group from the U of I went to Pont Neuf, I said, “Look! It’s the statue in the Pissarro painting at Krannert!” We all recognized the statue from the painting, so we tried to look at the buildings and figure out where Pissaro's apartment might have been. There was no way we could have... too many buildings. Still, it was incredible to see in real life something that we had studied at KAM.
KAM: What an incredible story. I can see why this painting is important to you! Thanks for telling us about it.
Kelsie: Well, thanks for talking with me. It’s been great to meet you.