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From social media to galleries, Firehouse artist finds resilience and connection

Delaney’s story underscores the profound interplay between individual storytelling and collective understanding
Artwork by Kodi Delaney

Kodi Delaney’s artistic journey embodies resilience, connection and the transformative potency of creativity, from the surprising virality of her social media presence to the immersive experience of encountering her pieces firsthand.

Delaney’s story underscores the profound interplay between individual storytelling and collective understanding, illuminating the power of art to bridge personal journeys and communal connections.

Despite early experiences in performance art, her true passion for visual arts emerged during high school, where she was encouraged by a supportive teacher to explore drawing and fine art. 

Her college years at Colorado State University were challenging, and she didn’t have a positive experience with it. Despite setbacks, her involvement as an intern in the CSU Lory Student Center galleries reaffirmed her love for art, even if the formal education system didn’t fully support her growth as an artist. 

It was during the COVID-19 pandemic that Delaney experienced a creative resurgence. Battling depression and PTSD from a traumatic childhood, she found solace in art as a form of therapy.

“I started doing art that was more self-portraiture for myself,” Delaney said. “I started making this entire series about my experiences with trauma and specifically childhood trauma.”

Delaney’s art, characterized by mixed media techniques, became a powerful means of expression and connection. Through her deeply personal works, Delaney found a community of individuals who resonated with her experiences and emotions.

“I gained a pretty significant following on social media because a lot of people were connecting with my artwork about mental health and trauma,” Delaney said. “Being able to connect with so many people that understood and felt seen, and inspired by my artwork at that time, it was a surprise to me ... It created a community of people on my social media ... where we’re all kind of healing together.”

Today, Delaney is a full-time artist, showcasing her work at galleries along the Front Range and finding fulfillment in her creative pursuits. 

Delaney acknowledged the difference in experiencing her artwork between social media and exhibitions. She explained that while videos and photos convey some aspects of her work, the tactile elements like textures and gold leafing are best observed in person. People might find a significant difference in viewing her art firsthand.

Delaney invites viewers on a journey through the labyrinth of her own experiences while leaving the door ajar for each individual to find their own resonance within the layers of her work. Her art, born from the crucible of personal struggle and introspection, serves as a conduit for exploring the complexities of grief, trauma and healing.

“I do like to leave it open for interpretation. But all of my pieces do have very specific things that are more self-portraiture from my life and my experiences,” Delaney explained. “Most of my work is reflective of me and my relationship with my abuser, who was my father.”

Delaney’s previous exhibition in Denver delved into the multifaceted emotions surrounding the loss of a parent who was also an abuser. Through her art, Delaney confronts the lingering shadows of childhood trauma and the enduring impact it has on one’s psyche and relationships.

“There’s a certain kind of grief that comes along with that, in knowing that ... there can never be a good connection there,” Delaney reflected. 

The incorporation of gold leafing into her work adds another layer of symbolism, rooted in Delaney’s exploration of religious trauma. Inspired by the opulent aesthetics of Gothic and Renaissance art, she integrates these elements into her work as a means of confronting and reclaiming her narrative.

“Growing up ... in a very religious family, I do think that there’s a certain level of trauma for me in the religion itself,” Delaney shared.

Despite the deeply personal nature of her work, Delaney finds joy in witnessing the varied interpretations that her art elicits from others. Embracing the unexpected insights shared by viewers, she finds solace in the communal dialogue encouraged by her art.

“I do believe that people often interpret things from their own lives and apply it to my work,” Delaney said . “I think a lot of people don’t realize that they did go through a lot of very traumatic experiences, very similar to me, that there’s no real difference in that we all are healing together.”

Through her raw and unfiltered approach, Delaney inspires others to confront their traumas and embrace the messy, nonlinear path toward healing. In reflecting on her journey, she expressed gratitude for the platform she has been afforded to share her story and advocate for change.