After studying pottery at the University of Montana, in a region rich in ceramic tradition, Kelly apprenticed with a master potter in the hills of Virginia, where, in keeping with the ethos of traditional Asian ceramics, he spent thousands of hours creating vessels that both honor the humble nature of clay and transcend it. Kelly, who is also a painter and admirer of the American street art and graffiti scene, honed his distinctive water-etching technique while living in Portland, Oregon, where he started Kelly Pottery. The abstract etchings evoke typographical elements and create surface textures that exaggerate the curves, offering an invitation to pick up and hold the pots, turn them over in the hand, and follow their lines all around the form.
Currently living and working in North Carolina, the mecca of American ceramics, Kelly's work continues to evolve. His designs and color palette, from the blues and greys of the Pacific Northwest to the beach-glass creams and celadons of Coastal Carolina, reflect his synthesis of American design traditions, and the rich and varied beauty of the country itself.