Kelli Harrod’s artwork is taking center stage - literally.
Harrod graduated from Wittenberg in 2016 with a degree in studio art (painting), along with minors in technical theatre and art history. She then attended the University of Missouri-Kansas City, where she obtained her master’s degree in scenic design.
Harrod now works as a freelance scenic designer and painter, using her talents in plays, musicals, and TV shows daily. In 2019 alone, she handled the scenic design for six shows, including Musical Theatre Heritage’s production of Funny Girl, The Coterie Theatre’s production of Secret Soldiers: Heroines in Disguise, and the Unicorn Theatre’s production of A Doll’s House, Part 2.
Harrod explains that her work allows her to use her passion for art to create a whole new world on the stage.
“I love watching when an actor first walks onto the stage once it is finished and hearing them say how the space really feels like something their character is a part of,” Harrod said. “I plan to keep designing and painting as much as I can and just see where the work takes me.”
When she was touring colleges, Harrod knew that Wittenberg was the perfect place to explore her interests, both inside and outside of her major.
“I originally picked Wittenberg because it had all of the things I was looking for: a great art department, theatre department, a swim team, and a sailing team. When I left after my first visit, I knew that Wittenberg [was] where I was going to go” said Harrod, who ended up joining Wittenberg’s swim and sailing teams, as well as becoming a member of Kappa Delta sorority aside from her work in theatre.
It didn’t take long for Harrod to get her start in Wittenberg’s theatre department, or for faculty to notice her talents. She credits a large part of her success to the late Jimmy Humphries, associate professor emeritus of theatre and dance, who retired in 2017 and passed away earlier this year.
“I walked into the scene shop in my first week as a freshman, and he immediately put me to work helping to design and build The Importance of Being Earnest. He saw potential in me and helped that grow into who I am now,” she said.
The liberal arts experience that Wittenberg provided for Harrod was also essential in shaping her worldview.
“Having such a wide variety of classes available allowed me to explore and learn new things every day,” she said. “I particularly enjoyed the archaeology and film classes I was able to take while attending Wittenberg. Being able to dive deep into things that I didn’t know about opened up my mind to new ways of looking at art and the world.”
Following her graduation from Wittenberg, Harrod, who is originally from Kent, Ohio, has worked on the set of more than 20 productions with designers from Pennsylvania, Kansas City, and New York City. She currently lives in Kansas City.
-By Faith Scully ’22, Office of University Communications