Kelly continues to work in film and theatre as an actor. His portrayal of Delbert Tsosie in A Thief of Time earned him the Outstanding New Performance Award by the First Americans in the Arts in 2005.
Kelly played two characters in a play written by Alan Kilpatrick entitled, Little Bighorn as a part of the Two Worlds Theater Festival at the VSA Art Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico from September through October of 2009. He most recently portrayed four characters in the play, “The Ballad of Sucios Frog” at the Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Kelly starred in two Native independent films in 2011-2012: Rugged Guy directed by Jason Aesnap and Red Clay from director Mark Ennis.
He also worked with Ain Gordon of Pick-Up Performing Arts in New York City on the theater/film fusion project "The History of Asking the Wrong Question which premiered in 2012 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Sculpture - Fine Arts
Kelly’s stone sculpture was awarded first place at the Intertribal Ceremonial in Gallup, New Mexico in 2004 and was awarded first place for his stone sculpture, “Energy of Woman” in 2007 and first place for “The Family” in 2008 at the Red Earth Expo in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Kelly was also invited to exhibit at the Red Earth Masters Exhibition in 2009. His work is in the permanent collections of the Institute of American Indian Arts and New Mexico Arts in Public Places. His film "American Indian Express" was also selected to be a part of the Native Pop-Roy Lichtenstein: American Indian Encounters Exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Byars has produced several films through his company Reel Indian Pictures including The Backroad, The Last Trek and A Return Home, both of which were funded through the New Mexico Filmmakers Program and the State of New Mexico. Most recently Kelly produced OPAL, a short film written by his wife Ramona Emerson, which was workshopped at the 2010 Sundance Native Filmmakers Lab. Kelly is also producing the documentary The Mayor of Shiprock – being funded through the Public Media Fund and Native American Public Telecommunications.
About the artist
Kelly Byars is a filmmaker, sculptor, actor and teacher. He is Choctaw and Chickasaw, originally from Sulphur, Oklahoma. He holds an Associates Degree in Three Dimensional Sculpture from the Institute of American Indian Arts, a Bachelors Degree in Media Arts from the University of New Mexico and a Masters Degree in Language, Literacy, and Socio-cultural studies with an emphasis in Native American Education from the University of New Mexico.
Kelly was also an intern at the Native American Community Academy in Albuquerque, New Mexico working on documentary projects with Native students. He has also held filmmaking workshops in other rural tribal communities as well as the University of New Mexico. He will be teaching short film production and sound recording at the Santa Fe University of Art and Design in the Fall of 2014.