“…the first metaphor was animal.” John Berger, "Why Look at Animals?"
In 2003, I adopted Beau the basset hound from a shelter in Brunswick, Maine to honor the first-year anniversary of my sister's death. Pat owned a series of increasingly nutty Irish setters, and donated money to animal shelters and humane societies. Adopting Beau struck me as the right way to honor her life. A decade later, I began working with him.
Artists through history used women as models and muses and these paintings are an extension and inversion of that tradition. The transitory nature of time and memory are the conceptual foundation of this body of work, which focuses on the relationship between my aging basset hound Beau - who appears as both model and avatar - and myself.
In Travels with Beau and 13, I foreground my photographic sources to further explore the theme of time. While Travels celebrates years of our car rides together in the tradition of American road trips, 13 acknowledges Beau’s impending mortality.
"Colleen Kiely uses her aging basset hound Beau as both model and avatar in her work, playing with the tradition of artists' use of women as models and muses." Mara Williams, Chief Curator, Brattleboro Museum & Art Center, VT, re: Touchstones, Totems, Talismans: Animals in Contemporary Art,