April 22, 2024

Senior Spotlight: Kelsi Haberman

In just a few short weeks, our three seniors' final artwork will be up in our gallery for our Senior Thesis Exhibition. Assistant Professor of English Dr. Bailey Moorhead sat down with each of them to get to know their work and creative process a little bit better. Next up-

Kelsi Haberman

Interdisciplinary Artist

From Louisville, KY


BM: How would you describe your art subject in a nutshell?

KH: It focuses on homelessness and the lack of affordable housing and access to food, resources, and other basic needs to survive. I had personal experiences with homelessness so I want to raise awareness as to what it really looks like as opposed to what the stigma around that experience is like. I’m advocating for people like myself too, because it’s not an easy thing to get out of once you’re in it.


BM: What are your main medium(s)/materials?

KH: Interdisciplinary / mixed media

Modifying found objects like etchings on windows

Experimentation and willingness to take a risk, not knowing if you’re going to fail

There’s an element of play


BM: What inspires you? Why is this subject important to you?

KH: I really care about the generations that are coming up behind me, especially being a mother. So seeing what that looks like and trying to think about how we create change for other people. Our social systems are created in a way to keep many people not just low income, but unable to take those steps to have a better future. The American Dream is a false narrative in that sense.

There’s also a lot of stigma around thinking homelessness is fueled by drug addiction or some other negative stigma… but so often, that’s just not the case. So many children are homeless, too. People think there are easy answers, but it’s complicated and difficult, with so many rules and regulations to navigate just to meet basic needs. I’m trying to show how these experiences look from the perspective of someone who has been there.


BM: Who do you see as your audience? What do you hope they take away from your work?

KH: I definitely want organizations and government officials to pay attention to these issues. There’s a lot of interest in “revitalizing” neighborhoods and focusing on tourism, but at the same time,that turns a blind eye to the problems that already exist for people here. But a lot of people would rather pretend that unhoused people just don’t exist.


BM: What kind of research has informed your work?

KH: When they tore down Sheppard Square [a HOPE VI project by the Louisville Metro Housing Authority], I went down there and interviewed with people who were displaced by that event. So in addition to my own experiences, I also talk with people who are still unhoused and try to understand their experiences.


BM: What are you most proud of in your work?

KH: Well, it can cause people to become extremely uncomfortable. Making these artworks look desirable or eye-catching is one thing, but I’m working with found objects, like making a couch out of a grocery cart: something that can be used to carry someone’s entire home. So I guess I like to make things look pretty, but talk about difficult subjects. For example, the unhoused population is growing by around 1000 people a year here in Louisville, KY. People need to know what’s going on around them.


BM: How has your art developed since you came to KyCAD?

KH: When I first came here, I loved painting. I thought all I wanted to do was paint. My art subject was focused on mental health— which still connects to what I’m doing now, but it’s more developed. Once I learned more about how to use new tools, all I wanted to do was make things. I got interested in installation, and I never thought I’d be doing that. I like working with my hands and seeing the physical things I’ve made.

Dr. Bailey Moorhead
Assistant Professor of English