Judy Kelley

I saw my first piece of fine gourd art in 2007 and was stunned that this gorgeous object could be a gourd! Three months later, under the mentorship of the phenomenal John Hernandez, creator of that first piece, I began producing my own works of gourd art – cutting, cleaning, painting and embellishing gourds with coils of pine needles, strings of beads, deer antlers, driftwood and even scraps of copper trim from the roof of a generous friend. Inspired by memories of curling up under an old Indian-style Beacon camp blanket, I recently launched a new series of gourds featuring wood-burned Southwest designs. These designs are reflective of the intricate patterns created by white designers for Pendleton and other blanket manufacturers for sale to Indians during the 1800s and early 1900s. I create gourd art with the full support of my husband, Larry, who recently converted a backyard garden shed into a air-conditioned workshop. It’s now home to my drills, saws and sanders and a year’s supply of about 100 gourds, in all shapes and sizes, waiting to become pieces of art. Artists' brushes and paint are new to me. My career has been in journalism. I began as a reporter in my hometown of Muskogee, Oklahoma, at the age of 16, and after graduating from the University of Oklahoma, I worked for newspapers in Enid and Oklahoma City. I have also been press secretary for politicians and political campaigns, a grant-writer for World Neighbors – an international development organization, and from 2003 until my retirement in 2012, writer/editor of OU Medicine, a full-color medicine and science magazine for alumni and friends of the OU College of Medicine in Oklahoma City, where I live. A special thank you goes to my wonderful family members, friends, colleagues and a houseful of pets for putting up with and even supporting my consuming addiction to turning gourds and pine needles into works of art.

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