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Rome Prize Fellow Thomas Kelley to share visually deceptive drawing techniques in Oct. 22 lecture at ISU

October 09, 2014



AMES, Iowa — Thomas Kelley—the 2013-2014 James R. Lamantia, Jr., Rome Prize Fellow at the American Academy in Rome, a clinical assistant professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago and a partner in Norman Kelley—will explore visual deception through architectural drawing in a lecture at Iowa State University.

Kelley will present "Eye-con" at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 22, in Kocimski Auditorium, room 101 College of Design. Part of "Spatial Geographies: Surface Practices," the Fall 2014 ISU Architecture Advisory Council Lecture Series, his talk is free and open to the public.

"From the 18th-century developed surface drawings of Thomas Lightoler to Daniel Liebskind's collaged misprojections in 'Micromegas,' the capacity to baffle reality through drawing has led to innovative strategies in how we perceive and experience architecture," Kelley said.

"Though often denigrated as a stylistic trope, or worse, a gimmick, eye-con drawing suggests how two-dimensional projection can be used to alter three-dimensional space. And although the effects may not always be immediate, or even legible, it remains a form of representation that conditions the observer to pay close attention."

Kelley's work is twofold. By misappropriating an ensemble of drawing conventions and illusory devices—including anamorphosis (the projection technique sidewalk artists use to create the sense of three-dimensionality when their work is viewed from a certain angle), false shadow projection and reversible figuration—Kelley reveals an alternative historical account of architecture's relationship to vision and hones a set of techniques that prey on the naive observer.

Like a child taunting a parent, Kelley's drawings, he said, "task the observer to consider that what they see is something they do not always know."

Kelley holds a bachelor of architecture from the University of Virginia and a master of architecture from Princeton University. He previously worked for Asymptote Architecture in New York City; Skidmore, Owings and Merrill in Chicago; Future-Cities-Lab in Charlottesville, Va., and Brasil Arquitetura Studio in São Paolo.

"White Elephant," Kelley's work with Jimenez Lai of Bureau Spectacular, is part of the permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. In addition, his work has been exhibited in Chicago and São Paulo.

In 2012-2013, Kelley was the recipient of the Reyner Banham Fellowship at the University at Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning. Under the pseudonym Norman Kelley, he operates Norman Kelley, LLC, a design and architecture collaborative with Carrie Norman based out of Chicago and New York City.

James Spiller, Architecture Lectures Committee, (515) 294-3543,
Heather Sauer, Design Communications, (515) 294-9289,