Keely O’Brien

Residency: August 8 – October 4, 2022

Keely O’Brien is an interdisciplinary artist and co-artistic director of experimental theatre company Popcorn Galaxies. Her practice incorporates intricately crafted objects with immersive, innovative theatre creation. Devoted to a thoroughly handmade, DIY process, Keely’s work includes immersive installations, imaginative ephemera, and interactive experiences. As a community engaged arts facilitator and educator, Keely creates collaborative artwork with community members and organizations. Frequently site-responsive and engaged with questions of place, home, and belonging, Keely’s work aims to celebrate the potential for creativity and community in the place and people around her.

Keely’s residency project used mischief and magical thinking to respond to the increasingly challenging circumstances of B.C.’s housing crisis. During her residency at the Blue Cabin, Keely developed the Dream Home Manifestation Program, a participatory public art experience intended to explore both the optimism and the hopelessness encountered by many community members in attempting to find secure and affordable housing. The Blue Cabin offered an important context for the creation of this work, as the structure of the cabin itself holds a history of housing displacement, dreams, and longing.

Keely’s residency included a variety of public engagements, such as an interactive installation during the Maritime Festival taking place on August 20 & 21, which invited community members to contribute to the Dream Home Shrine inside the Blue Cabin, and was co-created with Marina Szijarto. Keely created two community projects during the residency: the an interactive call-in project entitled Dream Home Hotline, the audio for which broadcasts every Thursday on currents and waves radio, as well as the Dream Home Manifestation Guide which was distributed to magazine boxes around Steveston. At the end of the residency, Keely hosted a workshop and open studio which allowed participants to learn a DIY monoprinting technique and create prints inspired by the homes of animals and creatures.

Photo of Keely O’Brien. Courtesy of the artist.