Kelcie McQuaid’s paintings are inspired by feminine energy, vulnerability, strength, and the woman’s struggle to find a place in society. Her concepts are derived from selective and blurred memories that define our emotional state. She is largely influenced by relationships from past to present and how people and our relationships can evolve, dissolve or transcend. McQuaid’s art strives to capture how perspectives change over time. As we grow and age, we see things in different context. She uses the layering of paint and other media to express her personal growth and power. Each time she picks up a brush, McQuaid revisits the paintings as a stronger woman and she passes her development on to her works. The result is ethereal pieces that seem to have movement and light of their own. They are emblematic of maturation, like a fogged camera shooting the course of decades.
I was that strange little girl in preschool who sat alone at the art table all day, dreaming and playing with finger paints. While my parents were separating, my teacher let me work on art projects in her class hours after school, and by the age of 7, I was helping her paint local murals around South Florida. Ever since, I found myself seduced by art and its ability to heal.
As a teenage girl living with my father, a brilliant yet unpredictable man plagued by alcoholism, I yearned for feminine guidance. The summer before my sophomore year of high school, while desperately striving to be the woman of the home, I faced decisions that I didn’t feel was I prepared to make. That year my father left to live with a woman he had fallen in love with, and I experienced heartbreak and abandonment for the first time. Intuitively, I turned to art as a solace during this time of darkness. My personal growth and development of artistic style emerged from losing that important relationship with my father, just as I was becoming self-aware. Full of uncertainty, I told myself that I have to be strong. I thought that though I may feel alone, I am not… Women have been nurturing neglect for centuries.
I sought out anything that would prepare me to become an independent woman in this economic machine we live in. Through a dual enrollment program offered by Deerfield Beach High school, I earned the chance to take undergraduate courses and intern with the Broward County Cultural Division when I was 16. There, I saw that being a working artist was completely within reach, and that this community needed determined, young people to form an identity. If I wasn’t working or studying art history, philosophy and graphic design, I was commuting on the bus. I’d create mixed media portraits with ballpoint pens, and water soluble pastels. I focused on mothers and children that surrounded me, inspired by the vulnerability in their eyes and strength in their stance. At night, I’d work long secluded hours in a box office at Revolution Nightclub, a music venue downtown. I’d listen to performances between thick concrete walls, and sketch the drunken, lucid figures I saw through the reflective glass window.
All of these experiences contributed to the evolution of my style. I am incredibly grateful to have worked in some of the most creatively nurturing environments, like Pearls Art Supply and the Museum of Art in Fort Lauderdale, where I was mentored by outstanding artists who believed in my work. In attempt to create a melodic relationship between the figures in my paintings, I began to saturate the canvas with poured ink and gel medium. I feel, I may have never embraced my fluid layering technique, had I attended art school. I’m baffled sometimes by institutions that simply recycle ideas and marginalize young artists. I think that life-taught Expressionists, such as myself, create their own standards and methods for the next art movement.
I want the paintings in my collection to be and feel unique and valuable, as each is a piece of my life that captures feminine energy. My paintings have become a way of expressing my feelings towards vulnerable yet tenacious female figures who inspire me to overcome the ‘damsel in distress’ stigma. I know what it’s like to be a young girl with untamed emotions, barely enough logic, under far too much pressure. In my story, the creative adult is the girl who survives. I’d like to share her with the world, and inspire the girl in all of us.