Class of 2023 • Print

Keely Mclavin

Keely Mclavin
Technological University Dublin (TUD)


Graduation Year
Class of 2023


I am an Irish multidisciplinary visual artist. My practice revolves around the exploration of womanhood and the lived experiences of women under a patriarchal society. Language and communication are at the heart of my work. Language has the ability to educate whilst simultaneously being used to perpetuate misogynistic ideals. Throughout the practice I incorporate language associated with sexist agendas to subvert the pejoration of women. I integrate the poetic and political to create a form of empathetic protest. My artistic practice is research based, often beginning with historical evidence that the work is concerned with. By grounding contemporary issues historically this shows the longevity of the issues of the project. Using this methodology I create work using a range of visual responses, incorporating different processes and materials into every project.My most recent project “She Can Hear How She Is Not Heard” is concerned with creating a shared space for women to speak of their lived experiences under a patriarchal society and the impact this has on their everyday lives. This work has been explored through screen-printing, drawing, sculpture, and text. There is a specific interest in language, how over time it has been used to perpetuate stereotyping, disseminate information, and deny ignorance, simultaneously preserving biases whilst providing the ability to reject them. Amongst women there is a sociological understanding of an unwritten sisterhood and social contract, each looking out for each other. I created an open call to women who wished to take part in this work for a photographic project and audio recorded interviews. The result of these photographs can be seen in the screen-printed portraits. I has also worked closely with my own sisters, who have been a major influence on the work. Part of the portraits series as well as lending their voices and breath to the audio work, where the three siblings commemorate the victims depicted in “The Gap”. “The Gap” and other banner pieces “She Can Hear How She Is Not Heard” and “The Gap Is Densely Populated” showcase the names of the women who have been victims of femicide in Ireland since 1996. The two banners showing the text/image combination are in reference to Sara Ahmed’s book “Complaint” which discusses institutional failure and the attempt to be heard. Ahmed’s writing was extremely influential for this project, seen in the printed works “Burial Site” and “Figure 1-10”, using text and imagery from Ahmed writing and visually articulating the points of the text brought attention to the difficulty in resolving the issues women face and their struggle to be heard. Featured alongside the banners is another element of protest and activist culture in the form of the zine titled “Heroine”, the artist uses her own hand to depict a narrative scene of Judith Slaying Holofernes. The focus on the hand as the empathetic vehicle often associated with care and fragility in this case subverted to show an act of violence without the presence of a violent/phallic object. Shown across from the zine is the welded sculpture “Rigid and Robust”, a steel frame which portrays the armature of the crinoline skirt. A historic undergarment that was extremely stiff, uncomfortable, and often combustible yet enjoyed amongst women of the time for the space if provided them. It acted as a barrier to those around them. The use of steel to create this structure meant the work is forced to stand in the space, to inhabit and embody it. Made to the my measurements it shows the physical presence of the women involved in this project as well as the artist's own inclusion.
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