Doree S. Kemler: A Little Bit about Me
My Formal Education:
B.A. from Brooklyn College (N.Y.) (Psychology)
M.S. from University of Tennessee (Knoxville) (Special Education & Rehabilitation)
Audited courses at Broward Community College (Ft. Lauderdale) and DeKalb College (Dunwoody)
My Informal Education:
I began drawing as soon as I could hold a pencil. In fact, I was published even before I began school :). That is because one of my older sisters was editor of her school paper, and when she needed a drawing to illustrate something that was going into the paper, she often asked me to draw it, and I would. As I recollect, those drawings were, of course, just simple drawings of someone reading a newspaper or a dog or cat or Santa Claus or a flower. They were really just pencil outlines, but she was happy with them, and I liked doing them.
When I was 10 yrs old, in the middle of the Great Depression, I overheard my father say to that same older sister of mine, in a very sad voice, that he could not afford to send her to a college in New York City. On that same day, or surely no more than just a few days later, my father and my mother told me that someone had arranged for me to attend a well-known school of art in our hometown. Remembering how my sister had sobbed herself to sleep the night she was told she couldn't go to college, I could not understand how my parents could afford to send me to an art school, so I thanked them for the offer, but I refused to go. I remember how they followed me, as I ran from room to room, begging me to go, and I just stubbornly kept saying "No, No, No," until they gave up and let me have my way. Seventy-five years later, when I was 85 years old, another one of my older sisters (I had six sisters) explained to me, "Mom and Dad could afford to let you go to the art school because you had won a scholarship to the school." I guess my parents must have told me that I had a "scholarship" to the school, but if they did, I didn't know what a scholarship was. All I could think of was that they did not have the money to send one sister to college, so how could I let them spend the money to send me to an art school?
Later, as a young teenager, I made paper dolls for all my friends. This included the paper dresses, paper hats, and paper coats, etc. One day, the father of one of my girlfriends came into my father's office, while I was there, and told my father that he could not allow his daughter to play with the doll, "because it is really art, not just a paper doll." Like a dummy, I sat there thinking he didn't like my work, but then my father put the paper doll, clothed in her paper dress and hat, on his bulletin board, and it was there for a very long time before it got old and worn and was thrown away.
When my children were small but, finally, all in school and I had some free time after working five days a week, I started taking college courses, just one course at a time. The first few courses that I took were the preliminary courses for a degree in art. I took all the required preliminary courses, including design, photography, intro to architecture, etc. The instructor of my very first art course, after just a few classes, said to me -and I will never forget this, "Doree, don't let anyone teach you anything. You've already got it." However, at the end of that term, I took a vocational aptitude test to help me determine the subject I should major in; I was told, as a result of that test that I had scored "very high" in psychology and would make a good psychologist. So I made one of the bad choices in my life and left the art department. Eventually, I received a BA in psychology.
When my children were older, they got scholarships to a boarding school (which I encouraged them to attend), and, finally, I had time for myself. It was then that I discovered the outlet which working with clay provided for me, and I discovered that I loved to work with clay. I made numerous small clay figurines, some of which I still have, today.
The only thing my BA in Psychology did for me was enable me to get a good job with the Social Security Department as a Disability Analyst. In that field, I kept getting promoted until, eventually, I was a Senior Disability Analyst and was even sent by my employer to the University of Tennessee where I received an MS in Special Education and Rehabilitation. By that time in my life, I knew I wanted to learn more about art, but an MS in Special Education and Rehabilitation was the degree civil service was paying for, so it was the degree I earned.
It was not until I was retired and living in Sunrise City, a condominium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida that I delved into painting, at the age of 63. While living there, I had several one-woman shows in the Sunrise Musical Theatre and in Bailey Hall. Also, I was an Artist-in-Residence at the Bazaar in Ft. Lauderdale, where people would watch me paint, and where I sold many paintings.
In 1994 I moved to be with my children here in Atlanta, and while here, I have had one painting hung in the office of the Georgia Secretary of State, in June of 2007, a one-woman show of my watercolors in the library of DeKalb College North Campus, and three of my paintings were hung in the gallery of the main floor rotunda of the Healy Building in downtown Atlanta. Most recently, in February of 2008, I had a one-woman show at the Phoenix and Dragon, and my work was reviewed by Bill Sanders of the Atlanta Journal Constitution as "an explosion of bright colors, [in] modern and traditional [form].
Over the years, I have been in many juried shows and have won a few ribbons, including one "Best of Show." I have, however, never done an outdoor show, and at my age (I am 91), I am sure I never shall.
I have made no serious effort since moving here to sell my paintings. My walls are covered with my paintings. My tables are covered with my sculptures. My storage room is filled with unpacked work, and I am still painting. I would like to find a brick and mortar gallery that will exhibit and sell my work, but it is very difficult for me to represent myself to gallery owners. I need an agent.
Right now, I am teaching hand-building in clay at the Benson Senior Center, here in Sandy Springs, and I love it. I teach my students to make small vases, decorated with hand built flowers. We also make flowers on plaques to hang on walls and plates of all sizes, with and without floral decorations.
I would love to meet you if you would like to come by Benson's to say hello, and feel free to email me, any time, if you are interested in my work.
Please, take the time to view my galleries of art work at