Kelli Connell's portraits appear to document a relationship between two women. Their idiom looks familiar: a young couple caught up in everyday moments of pleasure and reflection, a picnic in the park, playing pool in a bar, taking a bubble bath together. The first flicker of unease comes as soon as the viewer registers the similarity of the two subjects, who seem to be twins. In fact, Connell has photographed the same model portraying both roles, digitally combining the two images so seamlessly that not a trace remains of their construction. Connell has been at the forefront of artists using digital technologies for the past decade. Through her photographs she addresses complex issues about identity and visual rhetoric. As she states in an interview in the book:
“I’ve always seen identity as something that is very fluid and as such I usually shy away from labels altogether. Still, a larger part of this work explores the nature of identity formation. In my own personal history, the process of questioning my sexuality was confounding, because the conventional categories, and even the need to categorize in the first place felt like…something being pushed on me. Meanwhile the internal experience of my sexual and gender identity was quite natural and yet not a static thing at all. Perhaps this work is trying to figure out why we rely on categories and labels the way we do."
Kelli Connell received her BFA in Photography and Visual Art Studies from University of North Texas in 1997 and her MFA in Photography, Minor in Art History from Texas Woman’s University in 2003. Her work has been widely exhibited and can be seen in various public collections including Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Museum of Fine Arts (Houston, TX) and The Museum of Contemporary Photography (Chicago, IL). Connell currently teaches in the photography department at Columbia College Chicago.