My work is a visual reaction to our absurd inability to relate to each other simply as human beings.  We inherently register race, sex, age and ethnicity before we delve beneath the surface to the core of who someone IS.

By working with encaustic I am able to build many layers, just as there are many layers to every one of us.  As you move closer and look deep you are able to see the whole picture, just as you must get to know someone on the inside to truly know who they are.

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2/9/2021 presentation of my work

Chicago Tribune Article

Kelly Mathews is an artist from Chicago, IL.  She was born in small town Iowa where she pursued two things, art and Arabian horses.  After receiving her BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute, Kelly spent the next 22 years professionally training and showing Arabian horses.  Her students have won numerous top National honors in the United States and Canada.  Retiring in 2014 from professional riding, Kelly has returned full time to her art. Her history with addiction, rehab, recovery and Bipolar disorder lend her a unique perspective on the world around her.  Primarily using encaustic and photography, her work deals with social and political issues and erasing the stigma of mental illness.

Kelly Mathews’ art on the cover of Palm Beach Society Magazine


1992 BFA, Kansas City Art Institute


Gallery Director – Stola Contemporary Art
Board of Directors – Chicago Woman’s Caucus for the Arts

2021 Recipiant of an Individual Artists Program Grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events

Solo Exhibitions

2022 “Being Bipolar in a Polarized World” Dittmar Memorial Gallery, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL September 19th – October 20th, 2022

2021 – 2022 “Being Bipolar in a Polarized World” The Art Center Highland Park Nov. 19th, 2021 – Jan 2nd, 2022

2020 “Being Bipolar in a Polarized World” June 12 – July 12 Stola Contemporary Art, Chicago

2017 The New Studio, November 10th – December 31st

Juried Exhibitions


Insights V, Surovek Gallery, West Palm Beach, FL


National Women’s Caucus for Art Exhibit, Bridgeport Art Center, Chicago, IL


Publication – “Deadlocked and Loaded: Disarming America” curated by Karen Gutfreund

Insights IV – Zolla Lieberman Gallery Chicago, IL

Ephemera, The Power of Impermanence. The Art Center Highland Park


Featured Artist – International Society for Bipolar Disorder conference

Publication – “Not Normal – Art in the Age of Trump” curated by Karen Gutfreund

LIP, Hairpin Art Center, Chicago, IL

Collectively Shifting, Woman’s Caucus for the Arts National Show, Chicago, IL

Girls will be Girls, UTRGV Rusteberg Gallery, Brownsville, TX


Pop Art 2.0, The Art Center Highland Park, Highland Park, IL

Fire Works, Lakeside Legacy Art Center, Crystal Lake, IL

Fayum 21, Union Street Gallery, Chicago Heights, IL

Impact Color, Impact Black & White, The Art Center Highland Park, Highland Park, IL

Blue, Jackson Junge Gallery, Chicago, IL

In View, The Art Center Highland Park, Highland Park, IL

Humanity Rising II, ARC Gallery, Chicago, ILB

Art Gala on Fremont, Chicago, IL

All Politics Are Local, Jackson Junge Gallery, Chicago, IL


Naked Truth, Old Courthouse, Woodstock, IL

Project – RESIST FEAR, 33 Contemporary Gallery, Chicago, IL

FEATURED ARTIST – Project RESIST FEAR, Art Center Highland Park

Political Statements, Chimera Loft, Evanston, IL

Artprize 2018, Corridor Coffee, Grand Rapids, MI

Pride and Prejudice, ARC Gallery, Chicago, IL

Insights II, Zolla/Lieberman Gallery, Chicago, IL

Resist/Embrace, KYO Gallery, Alexandria, VA

Journey to America, Highland Park Art Center, Highland Park,IL Juror Montserrat Alsina


Undefinable: Woman’s Health in America, Evanston Art Center, Evanston, IL

Visions, Open Center for the Arts, Chicago, IL

Beneath the Surface, Highland Park Art Center, HighlandPark, IL. Curated by Caren Helene Rudman

Sketchbooks, 33 Contemporary Gallery, ZouB Art Center, Chicago, IL

Expo Chicago Week, Mars Gallery, Chicago, IL

Political Ramifications, Hairpin Art Center, Chicago, IL Curated by Gretchen Henninger


Connect, University of Chicago, Hyde Park, IL

Perfecting Your Craft, Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, Chicago, Il

160 Degrees, Gallery 2506, Chicago, IL. Curated by Kathleen Burnett

2015 4th Annual Encaustic Exhibition, Morpho Gallery, Chicago, IL. Curated by David Leigh

1993 Iowa Artists, Des Moines Art Center, Des Moines, IA. Curated by Deborah Levinton

1992 Screening – That Month before Fall, Kansas City Film Festival, Kansas City, MO

Screening – Separation of Thoughts, Sony International Film Festival, San Francisco, New York, Tokyo.

Various Private Collections