NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Kelsey-Lynn Corradetti grew up in rural Ontario, just outside of Toronto, and somehow found her way to the Berkshire Mountains to create art. It’s been a long journey for the 31-year-old, from leaving home at age 9 to study ballet to creating the type of art that, in many ways, is the opposite of the precision and control that professional ballet requires. It’s art that focuses on materials, color and line. Whatever happens afterward is just part of the process.
“The focus of my work is primarily on the materials that are a part of the practice, which is monotype printing,” Corradetti says as she prepares for her first gallery opening later this month at 3rdEYE Gallery in Hoosick Falls, N.Y. “I never intend to create an image that may speak to something else. I focus strictly on material line and color. And the result may imply a different understanding, whether an image, a building or a cityscape. But my intention is just to create a color scape that I suppose provides some sort of energy or feeling to it. Understanding ink and color is enough to create an image that, hopefully, someone will respond to.”
The fascinating part of Corradetti’s work is in that process, she never quite knows what the work is going to look like in the end. She is fully aware of this but also profoundly understands that that's all part of the process.
“In monotype printing, it's a single image that can never be replicated or created ever again,” Corradetti says. “I love the definitive nature of the process itself, but the result, I leave that open. The control I have is strictly in terms of selecting colors and the marks that I make, but once that image is reversed and put through the press, it is completely unknown, which is what I'm really drawn to. It speaks to life. There are many things in life we try to control and get a certain result out of, but the plan never ends up quite as we hope, and that difference, the unexpected, generally ends up being the best part of life.”
Corradetti’s printmaking is essentially painting on a single plate. The material, in this case, is lithographic ink, the purest form of pigment ink in the world. She works with different viscosities to create various layers, knowing that the bottom of the plate or the first layer she puts down will end up being the top layer. Once pressed into the paper, the image always comes out backward, allowing only a minimal amount of control.
“Those surprises are why I love printmaking,” she says. “It's always a surprise to me. If it ends up beautiful, that's just amazing. It's a completely unplanned plan that I'm just drawn to the unexpected nature of it.”
Corradetti’s color palette tends toward the subtle beauty of traditional pastels, with sweeping layers of color and the occasional patch of tone, creating a rich texture within the sometimes opaque and inviting color.
“I do think I'm drawn to more pastel tones because different other colors I have different connections to, so darker color palettes hint at maybe sadness and this and that," she says. "But for me, I'm drawn to these pastel colors. They give off a lot of energy, light, and life. So that may be part of the reason why I selected them.”
The work is the reward to Corradetti. The artist doesn’t expect anything from the viewer except perhaps some of the energy she feels.
“I'm open to whatever the viewer draws from them. Generally, I hope it's a feeling of energy and joy. If they're able to draw further conclusions, that's a bonus but not a requirement.
"I find a lot of art is challenging in the sense that it calls on your understanding of history or understanding of art itself," she says. "And this, to me, should just feel inviting and should be fun to be around. I think it’s an inverse invitation just to view art and enjoy it. I don't want it to be overly complicated or unattainable. I want art to be something anyone can look at and be invited to learn more about, invited to have it in their home, or hate it if they want. That's totally cool, too.”
Corradetti grew up as one of five sisters. She lived most of that time in the tiny town of Milton, Ontario, spending a ton of her time just dancing.
“My whole life was dance. That’s all I knew,” she says.
Corradetti’s family later moved to a town called Calton, a beautiful part of Ontario full of rolling hills and farmland that cultivates many creative people. Her dad had a rigid personality, expecting her to study hard and be the best at everything she tried. Corradetti credits her dad with giving her the drive to do as many things as she does, even though he doesn’t understand anything about art. On the other hand, her mother was a free spirit, a larger-than-life, creative character who was a professional author. Her stepdad was a painter, and, she says, is one of the reasons why she got into creating art.
“I have a beautiful big blended family, all with different backgrounds, she says. “I actually moved away from home pretty young. I left home at 9 to go to ballet school.”
Corradetti moved to Belleville, Ontario, at age 9 to attend the Quinte Ballet School. She attended various ballet schools across Canada and in the U.S., spending some time in New York as well until it was time for university.
“Moving away from home at a young age was challenging but incredibly exciting. From a young age, I was very dedicated to studying art in some form. At the time, it happened to be dance, specifically ballet. I just loved it. I wanted to master it. I wanted to learn everything about it and honestly needed an outlet as the kind of kid who maybe never really fit in and had way too much energy. Channeling that energy into dance was very important for my growth and my understanding of who I am. That somehow translated into now creating artwork.”
“So, it was when I was deciding if I would dance professionally in a company. I was accepted into an apprenticeship that was like a feeder school for New York ballet companies. At the same time, my father said, 'you know, this is a really challenging life. Apply for school at the same time, and then you can decide.' It was when I had those options, being a ballerina full time or going to school and exploring all the other things that life can be. I realized then that maybe dance is not for me for various reasons, how challenging it is on your body and your mental health, so I ended up going to Queen's University, which is in Kingston, Ontario, and getting involved in the incredible printmaking program there.”
Corradetti met a professor there, Otis Tamasauskas, who significantly influenced the young student.
“He (Otis) is why I ended up in North Adams. I have done a lot of photography in the past. I knew I had creativity in some way, and the university took a chance on me," she says. "I studied lithography and painting for the majority of my time there. Otis took us on a weekend trip to North Adams to see an experimental abstract monotype printing shop run by a master printer named Brandon Graving. I simply fell in love with her, the process, and what she offered me as an artist. It was an outlet that I had never experienced before.”
Printmaking, which is generally highly rigid, was why she liked it, coming from a dancing background. The difference was that Graving offered an experimental side of printmaking that allowed Corradetti to create images that she didn't know could exist within the space of printmaking.
“It felt like freedom and joy and excitement all rolled up,” Corradetti says.
“When COVID hit, I was living and working in Toronto. It was really sad and depressing. During our university studio tour with my professor, I remembered that Brandon had offered me to come back and do an artist residency program. So, 10 years later, COVID hit, and I was not loving life. I emailed her out of the blue and asked if she'd have me back. A few weeks later, I moved out of my apartment, put everything in storage, and packed my car.”
Corradetti now lives full-time in North Adams, creating art and working remotely in production, making TV commercials and films for agencies across Toronto and the states. She works commissions, custom prints for homes and businesses, as well as her own creations. Corradetti has some advice for budding artists who find themselves in the same situation she was in.
“Try not to take yourself too seriously,” she says. "At the end of the day, these are colors on a piece of paper. It's a complete honor and a rare opportunity to be able to spend and dedicate time to create things that you love and be completely dedicated to your art. Somehow, I have booked my first solo show here in Hoosick Falls, in this beautiful space, and it's a total dream come true. Refocusing and making art a priority has shifted my whole life in an extremely positive way. Just start. There should be no hesitation because art is an invitation to try. The outcome is never as important as the effort.”
"Oc.cult," solo exhibition of abstract monotypes by Canadian artist Kelsey-Lynn Corradetti, opens Saturday, with a reception at 6:30 p.m. at the gallery at 9 John St., Hoosick Falls, N.Y. The show runs through May.
For inquiries about the art, visit kelseylynntc.ca or follow on on Instagram, @kelseyltc.