Colleen Kelley is an artist, poet, and teacher. She received a B.A. in Fine Arts and Cultural Anthropology and an M.A. with honors from San Francisco State University. She is also a black belt in the Japanese martial arts of Aikido and Iaido.
Her early artistic influences were with her father Lawrence Kelley, an artist and student at the Chicago Art Institute, and the sacred paintings and sculptures in the Catholic Cathedral she attended as a girl. She has also drawn inspiration from Asian art; the paintings of Odilon Redon; and the mystic artists of the Northwest such as Morris Graves.
Previous bodies of work have included: When the Nameless Draws Near, a series done in response to a numinous encounter with the white deer of Point Reyes,
Northern California and Remember When You Drank Rain in the Garden, inspired by poems of longing by thirteenth-century mystical poet Rumi.
Kelley designed and co-authored The Box: Remembering the Gift, an environmental curriculum that takes readers on a mythological journey of deep ecology and renewal. A ten-year collaborative project with writers, teachers, and artists, The Box comprises three books—the Book of Sorrow, Book of Grace and Book of Reconciliation—and artifacts, such as a raku fired council piece used in group process, tree seeds, a silkscreened cloth, and compass. Contained in a hand made wooden box, a special edition of 2,500 were printed, assembled, donated, and sold.