Art is happiness for painter Kellie Grantham.

The Jackson area native began painting and drawing at an early age as the result of influence from other artistic family members.

At the University of Southern Mississippi, a professor, James Meade (who Grantham says is like a second grandfather to her), took her by the hand and showed her what she could do as a fine art painting major.

Now, Grantham, 25, is striking out, taking on a short term lease in Chane’s Wonder Lab at Fondren Corner to find exposure and collaboration among Fondren’s vibrant art scene.

Grantham’s mediums — oil pastels, charcoal, ink and oil paints — are the tools she uses to create non-objective works that rely on the tangible elements of design: form, shape and color. Her fascination with movement and color are integrated into every piece she produces.

Since graduating college in 2013, her parent’s patio has been her studio. But the brutal Mississippi summers are none too kind and and The Wonder Lab came at just the right time.

“I wanted a space to call my own, a place to show my work, where you can physically see it” she says of her studio “pod.” “Young people my age don’t get it sometimes and won’t walk into an art gallery. So I think more people may lean toward this new thing Fondren has to offer.”

Grantham joins Wonder Labbers Anne Bryant and Jotham McCauley and hopes the synergy of the space will bring about new ideas and recognition for collective and individual works. She’s currently collaborating with upstairs neighbor Lauren Miltner’s Lo Lady Fashion to create pendants that feature her paintings. “it’s exposure, getting our names out, to come together as a creative measure and promote ourselves,” Grantham says. “(Being here) lets everyone else see what you’re doing.”

Signed on for three months for now, Grantham hopes to ultimately become an artist that has exhibits in a gallery. Her other long term plans? To become an elementary art teacher. “A child’s mind makes such an honest response to art when they do it,” she explains. “You give them crayons and paper and they go to town. It’s not a preconceived notion, it’s intuition and they just go. It’s the same way I think when I paint.”

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