Lavely Miller-Kershman (b. 1978, Jacksonville, North Carolina) is a contemporary realist painter who works on oversized canvases that depict periods of intense self-exploration. Her latest series of portraits and figures seek to visually narrate the effects of trauma - offering windows into her intimate, personal journey while revealing the reflection of universal experience. In her artistic practice, Miller-Kershman achieves a critical introspection derived from her scholarly training in psychology.
Miller-Kershman's portraits interact viscerally from their canvases, sparked by the raw intensity of their gaze - eyes looking directly forward, initiating a shared sense of vulnerability between both the viewer and the subject. She draws inspiration from faces she observes around her, close members of her family, friends, found images in the media and film stills. Beneath the densely applied layers of paint and thick gel mediums, all of which the artist applies using her fingers, an exceptional sensibility translates into a dauntless exploration of the psyche.
"I ran out of brushes at some point back when I was in college and didn't have enough money at the time to replace them," Miller-Kershman explains as to why she paints with her fingers. "I've never been described as a particularly well-coordinated person, and I realized fairly quickly that by eliminating the use of any tools made paint easier for me to control." Recently, however, Miller-Kershman began a re-experimentation with the use of brushes, and she incorporates them occasionally throughout her newest pieces.
Lavely Miller-Kershman's work is held in various public collections such as the University of Virginia, Maria McVarish's Architectural Library in San Francisco, the National Center for Transgender Equality in Washington, D.C., the Delancey Street Museum in Philadelphia and the Twenty-First Century Fox and News Corporation building in New York City. Private collections include Jock Sturges (photographer), Kate Bernstein (writer and gender theorist), Lisa Decker (note contemporary art collector) and others internationally.
Awards for Miller-Kershman's painting include a top prize at 2013's Art Basel and fellowships at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and Dacia Gallery in New York City, where she studied under Iliya Mirochnick. Her work has been published in interviews, reviews, and textbooks throughout the world. Miller-Kershman graduated summa cum laude with a BFA in Studio Art from James Madison University. She holds both master's and doctoral level degrees in Clinical Mental Health from the University of Virginia, completing her residency in the area of serious mental illness.
She currently lives and works in Baltimore, Maryland.