Meet Kelly McKernan: An Artist Who's Going Places

By Lauren Highfill

Photo by Patrick Bowling

Chicago. New York. Australia. Italy. For the sake of art, senior visual arts major Kelly McKernan has been soaking up the artistic scene in several of these places. She went to Chicago and New York with Visions, the student art guild. She had her work published in an Australian collection of international artists. And she’ll be studying art in Italy this fall in KSU’s first full semester study abroad program in Montepulicano, Italy.

As if it wasn’t apparent from her current accomplishments, Kelly has had a passion for art from the time “I could hold a pencil between my fingers.” Since her interest in art was nurtured in high school as well, Kelly saw attending a university with an excellent art program as a natural progression. She chose to come to Kennesaw State because of “the overall environment, how close I felt to the professors almost immediately. Joe Remillard and Linda Hightower were very welcoming.”

Since she’s been at KSU, Kelly’s appreciation of the campus has grown. “It’s almost my second home! I spend more time in the art building than anywhere else,” she said.  For the campus as a whole, Kelly says, “it’s small enough not to get lost but still big enough to feel like you’re a part of a university.”

The first piece Kelly created for her "30 Paintings" project: "Inquisition"

Watercolor and gouache on 8"x8" maple

On campus, Kelly’s art has been honored in several student shows and she’s been awarded two scholarships, the James P. Smith Memorial Art Scholarship and the Visual Arts Studies Abroad Scholarship. Her current project “30 Paintings,” which stemmed from an advanced painting class with Associate Professor of Art Robert Sherer, has been garnering attention from multiple magazines and the Atlanta art scene. “The point of the whole project was to explore and see how my style develops and where I can go with it,” said Kelly. “I’m learning a whole lot from it and I’m so glad to have done it.”

The way Kelly describes her art could very well describe what she sees for herself in the future. “I would like to say when I’m making a piece I know exactly what I’m trying to convey,” said Kelly, “But I enjoy figuring it out as I go along.” With local and international opportunities perpetually on the horizon, Kelly is well on her way to "establishing a name for myself as an illustrator.”


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