Vicki Chelf was raised in Louisville, Kentucky. In her 20's she moved to the Laurentian Mountains to a small town of artisans and hippies in the Provence of Quebec, where she lived for thirteen years. There, she wrote what she believes is the first vegetarian cookbook published in French. This provided her the means to attend the Ringling School of Art and Design, where she graduated with a degree in Fine Art. Proceeding cookbooks allowed her to pursue fine art painting.Vicki also studied classical drawing with Charlie Miano at the Southern Atelier.
She has had one person shows in Sarasota, Florida, Fairfield Iowa, Paris France and Val-David Quebec. Her work has been shown in the Galerie Martine Moisine in Paris, Meridian Gallery in London, Swanson Contemporary in Louisville. She worked for The Ringling Bros. Circus as a foam carver and scenic painter, and was the assistant to bronze master Jeff Marks, who cast the work of super realist Duane Hanson.
For the past four years I did still lives of antique toys, selected and arranged to tell a story. Toys reflect the love and aspirations adults bestow on their children in the form of objects that are meant to entertain and amuse. As time passes, what once was cute becomes a bit creepy in a way that is easy to see but hard to explain.
Collecting, selecting and placing the toys in the still life arrangement is as important to the artwork as the execution of the painting which is done in a style of painterly realism. When the still life is complete the background is sometimes spontaneously decorated to set the stage for the viewer. Like one-frame plays, these paintings evoke issues I feel strongly about, such as animal rights, the environment or sexual politics. This is accentuated by titles, such as “Moma, Where does Bacon Come From,” “What is a Bee,” and “Little Miss Sunshine.”
In a recent visit to France I discovered a trove of illustrated newspapers published by the Catholic Church dating from 1912 to 1959. Inspired by the haunting images I wanted to use them in my art. After visiting a Resistance museum I knew I wanted to pay homage to the women who so bravely worked to fight the evil of Hitler's regime. This series will continue with portraits of Rebellious women from the era's represented by these newspapers. There are enough papers for several years of paintings.