Kelly Byars (Choctaw) is a filmmaker, artist, and teacher. Kelly has a Masters in Education in 2009 from the University of New Mexico in Language, Literacy and Sociocultural Studies, a BA in Media Arts from the University of New Mexico (2004) and graduated a Ronald E. McNair Scholar and member of the Golden Key Society. He also has an Associates Degree in Three Dimensional Sculpture from the Institute of American Indian Arts (1985) in Santa Fe New Mexico.
Kelly is a member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. He now resides in Albuquerque, New Mexico and has two children; Amber who lives in New York City, and Maximillian who lives at home. He is married to filmmaker Ramona Emerson from Tohatchi, New Mexico. They work together in their business Reel Indian Pictures.
Kelly has been a member of the Screen Actors Guild of America since 2007. He has also acted in several local stage performances including, Good Grief, a play directed by Susan Erickson in 2003, Full Moon 49, a play directed by Bruce King in 2004 and Evening At The Warbonnet, also directed by Bruce King, 2003 and 2004. Kelly also had a supporting role in the play, Kino and Teresa written by James Lujan and directed by Sabina Varela Zuniga in 2006. Kelly also produced and directed American Indian Express, a video short selected to be a part of the Native Pop / Roy Lichenstein American Indian Encounters at the Museum of Fine Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico in 2006.
Kelly recently produced a documentary entitled The Last Trek which premiered at the Museum of the American Indian – Smithsonian Film and Video Festival in New York City in December 2006. It was also screened through the month of March at the Museum of the American Indian in New York City in 2007 and the last week of March at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in Washington DC in 2007 as part of the Navajo Paradiso program. The Last Trek also screened at The American Indian Film festival in San Francisco 2007.
Kelly most recently co-produced with National Geographic’s All Roads Project, A Return Home a short documentary about a painter in the Southwest in which he was Director of Photography. A Return Home premiered at the Santa Fe Film Festival in 2007 and at was featured at the Museum of Fine Art in Washington, D.C. as part of the Film Indians Now! film series. Kelly continues to work as an extra when available. His latest acting endeavors include Fan Boys, The Eye, Swing Vote, and St John of Las Vegas.
Kelly was selected for reading performances in Massacre by Leigh Podgorski at Greer Garson Theater in Santa Fe, New Mexico June 2008. and was advisor and technical support for the Talking Stick Film Festival / Seed Graduate Institute in Santa Fe, New Mexico in 2008. Recently Kelly was selected for the reading of plays Little Big Horn by Alan Kilpatrick, The Woman Who Turned Into a Bear by Rhiana Yazzie and Fancy Dancer by Dawn Dumont, at the VSA on 4th St. Albuquerque, New Mexico on August 2008.
Kelly’s work can be seen in the Institute of American Indian Arts Permanent Collection. His stone sculpture won first place at the Intertribal Ceremonial Art competition in Gallup, New Mexico 2004 and in the sculpture division at the Red Earth Exposition in Oklahoma City June 2007 and 2008. His work will be in the Gallery of the Plains Art Exhibit in Oklahoma City August 2008. Kelly’s stone sculpture art work can be purchased at a variety of galleries and the Indian Pueblo Culture Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Kelly uses the name Nitushi – which, in the Choctaw language translates to “youngbear”.
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