Kelley’s treatment of his subjects functions in almost the opposite way. His subjects were never elevated in the first place, and it is through his keen aesthetic consideration of them that their implicit histories are revealed and discovered. The Garbage Drawings are copied from panels of the World War II comic strips by George Baker, Sad Sack, originally published in Yank, a U.S Army Publication. Here Kelley’s subject and object are the perfectly aligned, the pathos and the humor of the drawings mirroring Baker’s own. Kelley finds in Baker a kindred spirit, and his Garbage drawings play somewhat a twisted homage. It is a mistake to read Kelley’s base references and commentary on obscure social phenomena as solely a product of irony and kitsch. Nor are they simply and index of his interests. His highlighting of the network of associations that surround his subjects is the result of extensive scholarship and research. This aligns Kelley with the notion of the film actress Maria Montez: A serious scholarship on a subject widely deemed unworthy of such scholarship. It is a passionate sociological study in which authorship sis respected and previously ignored authors are given their due. With great personal feeling and identification. Kelley sublimates himself to the unknown or little known figures who are the subject of his investigations.
An excerpt of an essay by Justin Lieberman published in the catalogue for the exhibition Mike Kelley:1975-1994 held at Me.di.um Saint Barthélemy.