Trading scrubs for a camera


By Matt Denton

It has been 14 years since Freddie Kelvin first hung up his scrubs and picked up a camera.

From capturing abstract reflections in water to experimenting with blurred motion techniques, Carmel resident and abstract photographer Freddie Kelvin has elevated his photographs to true works of art.   

“Visitors come in and say ‘I love your paintings,’ and this means so much to me,” Kelvin said. “That is my intent as an artist.”

Kelvin is a former radiologist and has served as an artist-in-residence at Park Tudor School in Indianapolis. He has exhibited his work in Israel and has performed photography for the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra.

“Photography has always interested me; maybe that explains why I became a radiologist,” Kelvin said.

Kelvin earned a doctor of medicine from the University of London and was an associate professor of radiology at Duke University Medical Center for 10 years. In 1985, he served as clinical professor of radiology at Indiana University School of Medicine, retiring from active practice in 2008.

As an abstract photographer, Kelvin said believes the audience should never truly know the original subject matter of a photograph. Otherwise, the freedom of the viewer to make their own interpretations is lost, he said.

He began his photography career by traveling to the American Far West to capture the natural beauty there. As Kelvin filled his portfolio with simple landscapes, he quickly became bored.

“The red rocks of Sedona have been photographed thousands of times, who’s to say I could have done it better?” Kelvin said.

His transition from taking realistic photos to creating abstracts mirrors the development of many photographers, he said. It is not an uncommon experience for photographers to try to make the natural world abstract and to then find abstracts in nature as their skills progress, Kelvin said.

Kelvin prides himself on a persisting commitment to supporting fine art in Indiana. Among other projects, he taught a new generation of photography students at the Park Tudor School and photographed the Indianapolis dance company Dance Kaleidoscope regularly for 14 years.

Lately, Kelvin’s work has been divided between capturing reflections in water and exploring the trend towards intentional camera movement. This emerging genre of abstract photography utilizes complex camera movement techniques to strategically blur subjects’ motion.

While his initial interest in nature photography satisfied his love for travel, his reflections collection has taken him home to the waterways of central Indiana. These photographs were primarily taken in Carmel and Zionsville.

Abstract pieces can create beauty from the mundane, Kelvin said. This gives abstract photographers the opportunity to find art in the unlikeliest places.

“Many of these photos are just the reflections of trees and leaves, but I make sure you’d never know it,” Kelvin said.

Abstract photography lends a unique freedom to the artist to create and shares a similar freedom with the viewer to interpret, Kelvin noted.

He said he believes his nontraditional approach to photography should also extend to the medium the photos are printed on: he has taken to printing his latest photos on metal instead of the traditional paper. Aluminum prints allow light to catch the colors of abstracts in unique ways that paper cannot, he said.

Kelvin is confident that many abstract photographers will begin to transition to metal prints as the practice becomes more popular. Mediums should complement their art, he said.

He credits the rise of these stylistic and technical innovations to a growing community of artists posting their pieces to social media. Instagram has been particularly influential, Kelvin said.

His compositions have been exhibited at Art on Main in downtown Carmel for over three years. The open format of this gallery allows artists to connect with their community intimately, and he is grateful for the opportunity.

Kelvin described the people of Carmel as uniquely well informed and are drawn to similarly sophisticated works of art. He has been a Carmel resident for over 35 years, and described the experience of having a front row seat to the city’s growth as a hub of fine arts as an incredible privilege.

“Carmel is now the center of art in Indiana,” Kelvin said. “And I love being a small part of that.”

Freddie Kelvin’s portfolio is viewable at Selected works are exhibited at Art on Main Gallery 111 W. Main Street, Carmel.


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