Katie Anderson-Kelly is an emerging artist currently based in Canberra, Australia. Katie’s art practice is multi-disciplinary, and can be primarily characterised by her interest in participatory and community based artwork. Katie generally defines her work as either “public” (physically situated in public spaces); “interactive” (the artwork invites the audience to physically interact with it in some way); or “participatory” (the audience actively participates in the creation of the artwork).

A graduate of the Australian National University, Katie ended up at the School of Art quite by accident, where she majored in Digital Media. Katie spent the first eighteen months of her degree falling out of love with computers and learning things fairly aimlessly, until she saw an image of this artwork, which she unabashedly says changed her life forever. The phrase: “Art doesn’t help people, people help people” resonated with the young artist, who, coming from a family with a background in humanitarian aid, was struggling to reconcile her decision to study visual art with her desire to make a practical, beneficial contribution to the lives of other people.

In 2009 Katie essentially abandoned screen based work and refocused on what she called “Positive Interventions”. The result was Make Your Day: 21 Days of Organized Joy, a series of public installations that were designed with the explicit purpose of making people smile. This project marked a major shift in Katie’s art practice, as she began to explore working within her local community.

In 2010 Katie spent a year studying on exchange in the USA, at the California College of the Arts. Taking advantage of her somewhat unsupervised status as an exchange student, Katie was able to take classes outside her nominated major and develop her interest in a range of fields, such as sculpture, metalworking, and physical computing, which became integral elements of her arts practice. Her time at CCA also allowed her to further explore her interest in creating work that actively engages with the audience. Car Painting, Katie’s first participatory work, was created during this time.

Katie continued to explore the concept of participatory artwork after returning to Australia and the ANU School of Art in 2011. Her graduation piece, They Made This Art, was a series of paintings created in collaboration with the Canberran community. This piece was particularly focused on allowing members of the public, who often do not define themselves as artists, to be instrumental in the creation of artworks that were then displayed in a gallery setting. Katie’s passion for assisting other people to act creatively led her to employment within the community sector, where she has been able to work with people of all ages and abilities.

Determined to ground her community arts practice in a firm understanding of contemporary community development theory, Katie pursued a Masters in Human Services, which she completed in 2014. Katie was able to embed community arts engagement activities within both her studies, and she completed two large-scale community projects, We Made This Art and Sky and Water, during this time.

Katie continues to intergrate her arts practice with her community development work, and is currently employed as the Communtiy Development Coordinator at a local community centre. Katie’s work involves art teaching, delivering arts-based community engagement activities, and coordinating art exhibitions within the communtiy centre.

Katie hopes to expand her arts practice, drawing on the themes of participation, creation, and positivity to provide her community with opportunities to connect with the visual arts.