A wallpaper pattern of a three-headed flower on burgundy background.

Kalee Calhoun

What Is Hidden

Bodies accumulate emotions and desires just as houses collect sheets of dust and memories. What remains visible, and what becomes obscured through shame and time? What happens when we peel back the facade to reveal what’s buried? Through the accretion of materials and layering of surfaces, my work presents the human figure as a site of cyclical hiding, unearthing, and discovery. Working within the queer feminist tradition of reclaiming the feminized body and its fluids, I create ceramic figures, paintings, and written stories to question the boundaries between attraction and disgust, discomfort and fear, femininity and truth, touch and intimacy. 

I coil clay into femme figures with pointing fingers and cheeky expressions to challenge viewers’ preconceptions of desire, identity, and beauty. Red flowers and blushing cheeks disguise grotesquely long necks and oozing wounds of colorful glaze, just as pink satin pointe shoes covered my blistered feet throughout years of ballet training as a youth. Just as the pink tights hid weeping cysts on my thighs. Just as the stories and secrets of my Slavic ancestors were hidden away deeper with each new generation of women. Beauty is always accompanied by darkness. Dread and delight hold hands like laughing and crying.

I infuse levity into my pieces by presenting the objects as catalysts for joyful performance and transformation: figures are used as stools, mythical creatures are worn as masks, and sculptures are accompanied by pieces of creative fiction. All together, the work becomes an immersive, intimate space filled with objects that syncretize imagined histories and ancestral mythologies with my lived experiences. These spaces and objects allow me to investigate my relationship with my body and my heritage on my own terms, and reclaim autonomy from under the shadow of transgenerational trauma.


A pink ceramic figure with pink yarn hair rests its head on its knees, looking away.


Stoneware, underglazes, glazes,  nichrome wire, fired to cone 6, yarn

12.5 x 11 x 10.5 inches


An itch wakes me up most nights. I dream of clawed shadows chasing me and then there is an itch-- on my innermost thigh, on my low belly, or my back-- and I’m dragged into the waking world by my own sleeping fingers, scratching my skin awake, blood under my nails.


Image of a person from the waist down sitting on a ceramic head with red flowers inside its cavity.

Big Head

Stoneware, underglazes, glazes, fired to cone 6

21 x 20 x 19 inches


Where do you keep all your thoughts in that pretty little head? When all the space in your mind is taken over by worries and what ifs, here is a garden where you can put them to rest. The flowers are red as menstrual blood, lining the womb of the head, ready to expel worrisome thoughts that don’t serve you. Hide your shames and secrets here, where they will fade and become buried in time. Rest your body on Big Head, and let her hold your pain for you. You’ll have to take the chance that she might eat you alive.


A ceramic figure with pink skin, purple hair, and a "knowing" expression.

Basket Case

Stoneware, porcelain, slips, underglazes, glazes, fired to cone 6

26 x 14 x 10 inches


(a person or thing regarded as useless or unable to cope) who is a flower when the wind blows too strongly (functionally incapacitated) when the world is not built for love and self-knowing. (dysfunction from extreme nervousness, emotional distress, or mental or physical overwork) so the stories we want to tell and the feelings we need to feel (extremely nervous or anxious and is therefore unable to organize their life)  we bury these next to the flower (helpless, imparied, or incapable of functioning normally) but they ooze to the topsoil of our skin in hiccupping spurts: the truth.


A series of pictures showing the outline of a body being filled in with layers of ceramic materials over time.

A Letter to the Beach, A Stone in My Bed

Stoneware, porcelain, mason stains, oxides, beach sand, paper, ink, 2021

48 x 24 x 4 inches


A traumatic experience leaves behind a deep impression that the mind comes back to many times, even as the years pass by. No matter how much time passes, that memory’s emotions will stubbornly force its way through to the present, disturbing a person like the pea stuck under the princess’s mattress.

I wrote a letter to a memory that haunts me and placed it under a clay slab. I laid down on this slab of clay and traced the shape of my curled up body onto it. Each day after, I added another layer of material, alternating between clay, glaze chunks, slip, and sand from the same coast of the memory. After several weeks of adding layers, I sliced the slab into ribbons, revealing the physical strata I’d created alongside the remains of the buried letter. The shape of my body in the clay became indiscernible. When I fired these slices of layered clay, the paper letter burnt and disintegrated in the heat of the kiln, leaving only a small pile of ash behind.

Partly hung on the wall and partly laid out on the floor, the layers of material read as time and landscape. The letter-ash rests in a bowl next to what remains of the outline of my body, dislodged from my memory, made into something small and harmless.