Kelly Hider’s ‘Presence’ explores existence of supernatural beings


Exhibit artist Kelly Hider has concluded a study on “Presence,” a work defined by her search for the existence of inherent supernatural and/or alien entities. This new exhibit was on display in the Blackberry Farm Art Gallery from Sept. 3-27.

“Presence” featured high-gloss, high-contrast photos of children, holding toys emblazoned with colored rhinestones. The pictures, huge and detailed, also featured some acrylic paint laid over the top and rhinestones applied to the pictures themselves.

Hider said that she specializes in the incorporation of “alternative materials.”

“I get hooked on non-traditional art materials: cereal, macaroni noodles, now rhinestones,” Hider said.

“Presence” represented the often-overlooked existence of supernatural and/or alien beings. After growing up in a 225-year-old house, Hider said she began to recognize the existence of spirits that tormented her as she grew up.

This exhibit is meant to represent the duality present in nature, which Hider makes clear by overlaying rhinestones on her pictures to contrast with the subject matter.

“Presence” featured some images, like prints of children and their accompanying silhouette that were blacked out with rhinestones, including many others.

Hider said that the presence of the rhinestones should have been perceived as “inherently mysterious.” The blacked-out figures or objects were “absent of specific detail or personality,” which should bring the viewer to a point of questioning.

According to Hider, the rhinestones were a conscious decision Hider made to remind the viewer of how popular media portrays otherworldly beings.

Hider’s work is meant to help the viewer realize that there are other presences in nature that most people overlook or choose not to see.

When asked what the viewer should take from the exhibit, Hider responded with several different options.
“If this work alludes to religious presences and divine experiences for some viewers, I am fine with that. While the work has a serious overtone, I hope the viewer can find some fun in it, as well; they are sparkly rhinestone ghosts,” Hider said.

The depiction of children in the exhibit gives these spirits an almost innocent demeanor, which contrasts how most talk about supernatural spirits.

She also said that the deliberate choice to use children as her subjects was in attempt to contrast how spirits treat children versus how spirits treat adults.

More often than not, adult experiences with spirits tend to be more negative, more frightening, but children do not feel that fear.

Instead of taking her own photographs for “Presence,” Hider actually hired a photographer in order to really capture the crisp, and highly-saturated pictures that were on display.

The children on display in “Presence” were children of Hider’s friends or acquaintances. Many came to see their pictures displayed in the closing ceremony on Sept. 27.

Hider was present to speak to interested parties about her work and to explain her intentions behind portraying supernatural presences in this way.

Hider currently teaches art at Walter State Community College and resides in Knoxville, Tenn. Her next project will feature sculptures made out of silk flower petals.

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