Kelly, Mary

(b Albert Lea, MN, 7 June 1941). American conceptual artist, teacher and writer. She studied fine art and music at the College of St Teresa, Winona, MN, and fine art and aesthetics at the Pius XII Institute, Florence, Italy (MA 1965). She later received a postgraduate certificate in painting at St Martin’s School of Art, London. From 1968 Kelly worked in London as artist, teacher, curator, editor and writer. Her first solo exhibition was in 1976 at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, where she showed three of the six ‘Documents’ from her extended project Post-Partum Document (1973–7). This large-scale installation work both visualizes and analyses the mother–child relationship of Kelly and her son over a period of four years, and includes drawings, graphs and charts, objects and sound recordings. Post-Partum Document was later published in book form (London 1983) and was exhibited in its entirety at the Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, in 1984. Kelly’s work is renowned for its inquiry into cultural identity, particularly the construction of femininity and power in Western capitalist society, and it draws on and criticizes the work of Sigmund Freud, Jacques Lacan and other cultural theorists. Kelly moved to New York in 1989. Works are held in the Tate Gallery, London, the Australian National Gallery, Canberra, and the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York.