Faculty Spotlight

Beau: Model, Muse and Collaborator

Professor Colleen Kiely uses her beloved hound Beau as a muse. 

“…The first metaphor was animal.” - John Berger, "Why Look at Animals?"

Artists through history have used women as models and muses. Colleen Kiely's current body of work with Beau, her eleven-year old basset hound, is a natural extension and inversion of that tradition.

Rooted in observation, these images can be seen in many ways — portraits of Beau; documentation of an intimate relationship; a questioning of the contemporary portrait genre and a conversation with art history; an embrace of the ephemeral and a nod to mortality; explorations of the formal language of painting and drawing; and perhaps most of all, embodiments of love.

Though animals are always "other", they are also vehicles for our emotional and psychological projections. This tension drives the series, particularly as Beau grows older. Contrasting clarity and dissolution, Kiely seeks to trace the tenuous relationship between presence and absence, love and mortality.

Three drawings with Beau are included in the recently published book, 1,000 Dog Portraits: From the People Who Love Them by Robynne Raye and Rockport Publishers — one drawing is a full-page reproduction. Two drawings with Beau are included in the just-published Art Dogs: 100 Postcards, a companion project also by Robynne Raye and Rockport Publishers — the drawing Beau (Field #1) is featured on the back of the boxed gift volume.

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