November Residency: Oakland Art Family collaborates with Mayan Artisans

Ceramic set

The month of November at Tulum Art Club was busy, as we hosted several resident artists who developed special projects during their time in Tulum. Oakland based art family Kelly Ording and Jet Martinez stayed with us for a few weeks (including their adorable children) to explore the Yucatan, as well as collaborate with some local Mayan artisans in creating unique textiles and ceramic pieces. We connected Kelly to the Cocom family, who are dedicated to the creation of Mayan ceramic pieces, located in Tinum, Mexico near Valladolid. The artwork that came out of the collaboration was very special, and we brought it to Art Basel this year, representing both Kelly and the Mayan artisans.

We asked Kelly a few questions about her work and process, and she was gracious enough to give us some insight into her world.


Irena: How has working with another artist influenced your creative process?

Kelly: I was fortunate enough to work with Cocom family in San Francisco de Tinum while spending time in the Yucatan and it was super refreshing! I think when you've been a working artist for years, you really get in your own little world, working in the same way with the same materials. And it's really important for your creative energy to step out of that place from time to time, work with other people and ideally work in another medium. So being able to travel to Mexico really allowed me that time to explore new places, new ways of making art and really find that joy in making things again. After returning home and working in my studio again, I wanted to continue that practice of exploration in my work so I gave myself time to try new things, make mistakes. I had kind of forgotten how necessary that is.

Irena: What is your Favorite Project/ Favorite place you have painted?

Kelly: My favorite projects are usually ones in which I get to learn about using new mediums or see my work translated into a different medium. Recently I've learned how to silkscreen and letterpress print at Kala Art Institute in Berkeley, which I've loved because it is so different from painting. Also, of course, creating the ceramic pieces with Residencia Gorila in Mexico! But, my favorite might be a recently completed pavement project at Unity Plaza in San Francisco, California. Working with the San Francisco Arts Commission, I created a design for a plaza that is approx. 60' wide x 180' long. Once the concrete was poured and it was completed, I spent a lot of time watching people walk around the plaza, on top of my work essentially! I love that piece and am so proud that possibly one day my grandkids will be able to walk there too.
My favorite place I've ever painted would have to be Florianopolis, Brazil. My husband, Jet, and I painted a mural on an elementary school there. I love the country of Brazil and I loved working next to Jet. I think all my favorite murals are ones that I've worked on with Jet.



Irena: What has influenced your vision?

Kelly: I have a lot of influences and a lot of artists that I greatly admire. I was originally greatly influenced by Asian Art and I still strive to create seemingly minimal, calm and beautiful work in that fashion. I often look at Robert Motherwell, Agnes Martin, Frank Stella, Alicia McCarthy, Ruth Laskie, Momo. Also, I look at a lot of textiles from around the world for insight on geometry, color and composition.

Irena: What kind of music do you like to listen to while producing?

Kelly: I actually don't listen to a lot of music in the studio! I listen to the radio, news and a ton of books on tape. I listen to all sorts of detective, mystery and thriller books.

Check out Kelly's  website and impressive collection of works on paper and public projects.

We really enjoyed having Kelly and her family at Tulum Art Club and hope to see them soon.