The National Portrait Gallery of Kessa

This series centers around balance of counter-culture and tradition; how punk or gothic styles might be adopted by aristocrats and socialites for serious portraits left as a reminder of their legacy. What was once considered rebellious has now become widely accepted.

To get a tattoo or piercing has become expensive in the modern age. These would have been considered status symbols for only the very rich in centuries past, and thus, they’d want to flaunt it in their commissioned portraits. A King or queen would have had the biggest mohawk with sleeve tattoos, that’s how I imagine it. These are very tribal adornments, but if marketed as a luxury, you can bet the royal courts of Europe would have taken it to an extreme. Having been interested in the ancestor worship as perpetuated by noble families, I wanted to combine these ideas with my love of old portraiture and punk imagery.

Traditionally, each portrait preserves what may later be a historical moment. In the case of this series however, the “historical” moments, names and places are of my own imagination. I have in a way concocted a legacy; ancestors that could belong to anyone. It has become an impulse and passion I continue to explore, adding characters and stories to my ever-growing private empire of punks, goths, and bad behaving nobility.

The book is available from Amazon and select stores.

One reply on “The National Portrait Gallery of Kessa”

Hello Arabella, You may not like me saying so but you look like your mom. Your work is awesome! Hope you’re doing well. I’m still in MI and don’t get to see Kelley very much. Drop me a line if you get the time. We often recall the long trip to Niagara falls.
I wish you well.–Shirley Kelley’s mom