Jarrett Key knows how to make an entrance. You’ll hear him before you see him. After straightening his hair with a hot comb, like his grandmother used to do, putting it up in a ponytail and donning a pair of overalls, he enters a room with a full-throttled bellow, “Heavenly mother guide me.” Then, he walks barefoot through the audience, sticks his head into a bucket of tempera, and begins to paint … with his hair.
Somewhere in the crowd will be Jon, his brother, also an artist. They are twins, but not identical. Their work, similarly, is adjacent and complementary but separate and wholly its own.
The Key brothers grew up surrounded by family in Seale, Alabama – their grandfather’s cows, their grandmother’s lessons and their parents’ business acumen and collaborative efforts in creating a life together shaping them both.
Making things has always come natural to Jon and Jarrett. As far back as first or second grade they made scary movies using an old VHS camera. When they were 10, their mother brought home an HTML book and Jon instantly took to it, teaching himself to code. In school they were musical performers. “We really clinged to music and that was our first expression of art,” Jon said.
They moved from music – playing piano, flute, saxophone, trumpet – to theater. They were also into languages as kids – teaching themselves French, Japanese and German.
And then there was the craft table.
They won’t go into it, but there was a glitter incident and they no longer work in that medium. “We stopped playing with glitter,” Jarrett said. “Glitter’s not allowed in the house anymore.”
“We have glitter trauma,” Jon concurred.
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