Charis Kelley was born on January 31, 1976 in Houston, Texas to Carol and Charles Kelley. Her mother was a business owner along with her father who also served as a local minister. She was raised in the Acres Homes neighborhood of Houston, the oldest predominantly African American neighborhood in the city and graduated from the High School For The Performing and Visual Arts in 1994. She then attended Prairie View A&M University’s School of Architecture where she received both a Bachelor of Architecture and Construction Science and a Master’s degree in Community Development as one of the top students in her graduating class of 2001.
In the years to follow, Charis pursued a number of avenues to figure out where she fit in and what sparked her interest in the long run of life. Always returning to art along the way in the form of random jobs, painting at various locations business and residential locations, she jumped at the chance and was always honored when someone wanted her work.
To develop her architectural career, Kelley took a job working as a Contract Project Manager for Houston based KACO Construction Company. She oversaw the company’s project budgets, deadline compliance, and interactions with outside contractors, design professionals, and company supervisors. She conducted estimates for bidding on potential company projects, was responsible for site material deliveries, and acted as a liaison between upper management and building inspectors and client representatives.
For KACO, Kelley was also responsible for maintaining building safety codes, construction site emergencies, and inspection compliance matters. She was a part of the decision-making team, which determined appropriate construction methods, rescheduling assignments delayed due to inclement weather, and oversaw the workers production, specifically the painters, interior designing personnel, and plumbers.
Although Charis loved working for KACO, her heart and artistic desires lay in her creativity of painting her life experiences and of those she came in contact with, particularly the world in which she experienced. One of her biggest opportunities to paint came while working for KACO thru her connection with the company. She was honored to be the muralist for the Kingdom Builders Church, which is one of the largest Black United Methodist Churches in the U.S. The challenges she faced on that project and during that time which manifested into 2 projects was challenging and rewarding as well and began preparing her for her next journey.
In 2009, she decided to leave KACO to pursue her professional dream of artistic freedom, taking a chance on economic starvation or economic stardom, knowing that as have many other “starving artist”, she may experience both. Nonetheless, she left KACO and founded, Artworks Unlimited, LLC. and marketed herself as a muralist. It was not long after she earned her first commission and the green light for artistic freedom and creativity began to shine.
From the beginning of Charis’s first art creation, her paintings have depicted a reflection of the neighborhood she grew up in and the commonality of the communities in which she painted. For her, art became a form of expression that brought about a true connection between her and her outside world. Ms. Kelley’s architectural training gave her an advantage over others in painting large murals and decorative wall spaces, which became a mainstay form of income for her.
Over the years, Ms. Kelley has been a showcased artist in many gallery exhibitions across the country and has painted many murals in Houston and several cities in the U.S. Having been inspired by the likes of famed African American painter John Biggers and famed African American photographer Gordon Parks, Kelley’s paintings and murals show bold, crisp, clean, and realistic imagery of the surroundings where they are painted and hang on building walls. Again, her architectural training gives her insight into different substrates and Painting applications where she may be called upon to use on walls made of brick, plaster, wood, or concrete. Her indoor murals subjects have ranged from contemporary imagery to familiar mainstays to unique designs and may are for her love of children thru which she is inspired by their natural wonderment and excitement. Her ability to paint in both abstract and realism methods allows her a greater opportunity to be of service to those who desire murals and other decorative art.
During her short yet growing professional and artistic career, Kelly has been recognized for her artistic abilities and her mural painting skills by many organizations and art institutions across the U.S. She was selected as a finalist in the Marvin Gaye Recreational Center in Washington, D.C. artist pool, was selected as a muralist for Dick Sporting Goods, served as the selected muralist for fifteen MOD Pizza Franchises, and as the muralist for Slim Chicken Restaurants. Charis’s works of art have been showcased in many public places across the country and has appeared in many solo and group art exhibitions across Texas. She was selected as one of the “30 for 30 Emerging Artists” and has received numerous commissions because of her rising stardom and her iconic pieces.
Charis’s wish and goal is to attract art patrons to her work and to share with them her life experiences and experimental courageousness delving into various subject matters that blossom into amazing desirable pieces. Many have seen her work showcased across the state of Texas, appreciating it sometimes with a simple glance. Her works hang in the eyes of many with many more unusual and thought-provoking pieces to come. A master in the making, Charis Kelley is humbled by her talents, and wishes to share them with passionate art patrons around the world. Her works of art will stand the test of time.