Kelly Campbell returns to the Lobby Gallery September 2-28 with a collection of oil field insipired pastels in “Roughnecks & Roustabouts: A Love Song”. The artist reception will be Saturday, September 16, 6-8.
My dad worked in the oil field most of his life; I was born in Rankin, Texas, and we moved from Abbeville, Louisiana, to Norphlet in 1965. My parents had friends who lived at Joyce City, and my brother and I spent countless hours as children riding bicycles all over the oil field. When I got a little older, I was a member of the Smackover Riding Club – and we rode horses for miles and miles through the oil field. I guess you could say that oily dirt roads and salt flats were my playground; I can close my eyes and still see it all and smell it all.
But this work isn’t really about my childhood. It’s about my dad and all of the men whom he worked with and for – the roughnecks and roustabouts, tool pushers and gaugers, mechanics and drillers in the Smackover oil field. Good men who made a living for their families through hard work, in the hottest part of the summer and the coldest part of the winter, twenty-four hours a day. That’s why the pieces have men’s names; they are named after men I knew growing up, men who worked for Phillips Petroleum Company, for small independent oil producers, for cementing services and well services and vacuum truck services.
It’s not your typical love song; but a love song it is.
Kelly Campbell does some photography, but mostly she works in pastels, using her photos for reference. She said, “The process is therapy. I lose all sense of time and self when I’m working. Aside from satisfying the need to create something, the very best is whenever someone sees a piece of my artwork and feels a connection to it – and talks to me about it!”
A retired art, English, and French teacher, Kelly is employed at the South Arkansas Arts Center where she is the general cat herder, gallery manager, Visual Arts liaison, and executive assistant. She also teaches beginners’ pastel classes and is in the instructor rotation for Corks & Canvas at SAAC. Kelly participated in the “Take a Seat: A Night at the Arboretum” chair auction and in the Art Dash – 5×5 fundraiser at SAAC. She was accepted into the SAAC Juried Art Competition in 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015 and 2017. Her work has previously shown in solo exhibits at SAAC and in Bricolage at SAAC with her dear friend Julia Slaughter.