Artist in Focus: Alishon Kelly

Julia Key, Editor

Hellgate student Alishon Kelly has been creating art for as long as she can remember. If you go to Hellgate there’s a good chance you have seen her art around, in the art hallway, the commons or even on posters around the school. 

Missoula has created great opportunities for Kelly, especially in the skate community, she said.  “Chris Bacon, the owner of Board of Missoula, he’s given me the opportunity to put my art on stickers and shirts; it’s going to be on a skate deck pretty soon, he’s always excited to see new stuff that I’m working on.” 

Kelly said she is most inspired by her mother. “She is also an artist, and she’s the one who’s always bought me my art supplies and taught me about indigenous art.”

Not only does skateboarding create support for Kelly’s art,  it’s also where she draws much of her inspiration. “Skateboarding plays a lot into my art style, ledger art is the biggest inspiration for my art, and I take inspiration from album covers too,” Kelly said. 

Skateboarding isn’t the only thing that motivates her art, she is also influenced by her experiences in the indigenous community and her history as an indigenous person. It’s her biggest motivation to create. “Native Americans aren’t given a fair opportunity to express or communicate the issues that go on in our communities,”  said Kelly. 

She creates art based on her experiences and the world around her. “There’s always inspiration, just keeping up on current events, reading books about my history or things that have happened within my community within the last hundred years are all good places to find inspiration,” Kelly said. She also creates based on her experience living on the reservation. She created her favorite piece in an art class last year titled ‘I Love Indians.’

“My art style is kind of just a reflection of who I am,” said Kelly. But art isn’t the only way Kelly expresses herself, in her free time she writes, reads, listens to music, skateboards, or she’s at Board of Missoula.

When it comes to her plans post high school Kelly said, ““There’s a lot of different routes that I’ve been thinking about going in ‘cause I really like math, I like to write, I have a lot of interests and art is just one of them.”

Kelly shares most of her art on Instagram, but you can also find her work on Etsy, as well as in Board of Missoula, where she has stickers, shirts, and skateboard decks on the way!