Kaetlyn Able was born and raised outside of Boston Massachusetts. She majored in studio art at Wellesley College and went on to earn an MFA from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston in 2004. She has exhibited her work widely throughout the Northeast, and her paintings are in numerous private collections throughout New England and New York. In 2010, after the birth of her first son, Kaetlyn took time off from her work to become a stay-at-home mom. In 2011 she relocated to Libby, Montana with her young family before moving to Bozeman in 2012. Today she works out of her home studio in Bozeman while her two little boys are sleeping, making art alongside her or playing nearby.
In this new group of botanical portraits and flowery houses I am exploring ideas about a human connection to nature, tension between natural and man-made worlds, identity, memory and the passing of time. Using a variety of techniques to create intricately detailed paintings and drawings, it is my goal to create images that are playful, wistful, thought-provoking and evocative.
The subjects of my portraits come from my collection of antique photographs. I spend a lot of time looking at these images, wondering about the people pictured. I imagine what their lives, personalities and relationships might have been like. Were they happy? Were they in love? What were their dreams and desires? I am most interested in the carefully orchestrated studio portraits. The formality of the subjects’ elaborate, restrictive clothing, stiff poses and serious expressions speak volumes to me about societal expectations and constraints. I combine these portraits with wild, unexpected botanical elements to evoke a secret inner life that I’ve imagined for the character.
As I developed my portrait series, I began to imagine dwelling places for the characters I was creating. As a relative newcomer to Bozeman and to Montana, the landscape and history are all new to me and I find them deeply fascinating. My flowery house series emerged from discoveries I have made while exploring and reading about the city and the surrounding areas. I’m particularly interested in the ways that the landscape has changed over time. What did it look like before settlers arrived and began to build? The Native American tribes of Montana called the Gallatin Valley “The Valley of Flowers.” This name inspired my own take on the notion of a ghost town, where flowers that once ruled the landscape begin to reclaim the city.
Our Love Grows and Grows
Ink and watercolor on paper
709 Willson Reclaimed
Watercolor on clay-coated hardboard panel