The Heart of Art: It’s an Act of Caring

By: Sheila M. Trask in Get to Know Us
on June 18th, 2020

Color. Shape. Texture. Movement.

These are words most of us reserve for visual arts, for paintings.

Talk with writer and editor (and painter) Kelsey Schurer for a while, though, and you’ll begin to see they’re equally applicable to the written word. Just as Kelsey uses color to capture the essence of a moment in her paintings, she uses language to illuminate the heart of her subjects.

This is the part of a bio where the writer usually observes something like “But it hasn’t always been this way.”

The thing is, though, for Kelsey, it has.

Creative writing came naturally to Kelsey from an early age, and she fondly remembers joining her artist grandfather for adult-level acrylic painting classes while she was still in elementary school. She’s grateful, too, for the support she received from her whole family; their love and care taught her that love is the reason for making art, the reason for pursuing her dream. When it came time to choose a middle school, her parents did everything in their power to help Kelsey achieve that dream, from helping her build a portfolio to accompanying her to auditions for both visual and literary arts. She was accepted to both programs.

“Writing has my heart and soul, though,” says Kelsey, so she chose to concentrate on that.

Arts schools have a reputation for being highly competitive and stressful, but the words Kelsey uses to describe her experience are just the opposite:

Joy. Enthusiasm. Talent. Magic.

She remembers knowledgeable teachers and passionate classmates throughout middle and high school. “Every person at the arts schools wanted to be there,” she says. Together, they explored the foundations and fundamentals of the arts, and, just as important, they learned when and how to break the rules. Kelsey says this is when the “magic of narrative and poetry” bloomed in her life, and she never considered another path. Creative writing studies at Florida State led to fiction and poetry explorations in Virginia Tech’s intensive MFA program.

If Kelsey ever had a moment of doubt about her avocation, it might have been during these three years, but the stress and pressure of producing a thesis and teaching undergraduates in a highly competitive environment only confirmed for Kelsey that she was doing what she was meant to do.

“It taught me to stay true to the core of who I am. I realized that if I could impact one reader, I have done what I came to do,” says Kelsey.

Kelsey’s work has impacted many readers, and not a few writers, because Kelsey strives to find the heart of the story that’s in front of her. As a journalist, she captures the deepest concerns of her subjects, whether she is writing a community member profile or an investigation into intercoastal waterway habitat preservation. As a writing coach and tutor, she lives for the moments of discovery when her students break through their blocks and begin to genuinely express themselves on the page. When she’s copyediting, she’s careful not to strip away the writer’s original voice, because that’s what matters.

Kelsey loves working on a variety of projects because each type of work “fuels a different part” of her creativity. She also acknowledges that each type of work “has its own traffic jams,” and it’s helpful to be able to change “lanes” from time to time.

Working at Round Table Companies (RTC) allows Kelsey to continually recharge her creative energies by working on a variety of projects, from author coaching to content development. But the real reason she joined RTC was the company’s focus on vulnerability and authenticity. She admits it was a little daunting to apply, because RTC’s unique hiring process prompted her to explore feelings of grief and loss in a very raw way. But she wrote her heart out and submitted her application.

Then she waited, unsure what the people on the other end were thinking.

“It made my palms sweat,” she says now, laughing.

When the call came, it was clear Kelsey had connected with the right people.

“I didn’t want to forget why I loved making art in the first place,” says Kelsey, “and RTC was all about the why—they understood that art is an act of caring.”

“Care” is a word that comes up frequently when you talk to Kelsey—from her work with other people to her stints at wildlife sanctuaries and horse rescues—along with a few others:

Make. Create. Breakthrough.