Kelly Alison – The Art League


“The first crowd of 20,000 « sat like icebergs » Annie Oakley noted in one of her letters back home to the states.  It was the Paris Exposition of 1889, an event commemorating the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution and Buffalo Bill’s Wild Wild West Show opened to a crowd that eventually reached 32 million.   By the end of Oakley’s sharpshooting act, the audience had opened their hearts and minds as they cheered and threw their hats into the air.  Oakley’s performances drew such acclaim that the president of France offered her a commission in the French army, and the king of Senegal said he would buy her for 100,000 francs to destroy the lions that were devastating his villages. Oakley stayed in France for six months and became perhaps the first female cultural ambassador between the two countries.

When I first heard of the “Open Door Project” my mind immediately went to this event in America/French history.  After all, IT IS OUR STORIES THAT CONNECT US.   Annie Oakley’s story is one of those kinds of stories.  It is the story of overcoming hardship and achieving greatness and it is the story of an iindelible image of self-reliance at a time when women just didn’t do what she was doing.  In essence, it is not only a story of what it is like to be female in early American culture, but a story that continues to ask questions about what it is like to be female in today’s global world.

I grew up in the Texas Panhandle, where hunting and fishing is still a way of life.  My dad used to tell me stories about Annie Oakley when we were out on one of our favorite adventures, shooting cans off the canyon walls that dropped off the caprock.  I’ve long had a great fascination with women of the old west and Ms. Oakley was a personal hero of mine.  At the time I didn’t realize the significance of her story, but as I grew her ideas about self-protection and equal pay for equal work informed my life and open many doors for me as I embraced the ideas of perseverance and dignity.

About my work:

My methods of creating a piece of art are not as straight forward as creating a sketch and then executing it.  I build my work in several layers, the first layer being a collage of materials, written and drawn, that result from the research of my subject, in this case, Annie Oakley.  The details of her life will create a very colorful background for the subsequent layers.  Secondary layers include woodcut like stencils of the major image and further blocks of shapes or color that continue to tell the story.  I have included a .jpg similar to what the first layer will look like and one similar to the woodcut like layer, but the other details will make themselves known as the piece develops.  I think this process is an important part of keeping the artwork dynamic.