Kirsty McKenzie

Kirsty McKenzie

San Francisco, CA, United States

About Kirsty McKenzie

Kirsty McKenzie (B. 1982 Toronto, Canada) is an interdisciplinary artist, and costume designer. She graduated with a BFA in Fashion from the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) in 2005. She prolifically creates paintings, drawings, mixed media collages, costumes, interiors, performance, sound, and video installations (such as "Cat Lady" and "Clown Frown", 2015), as well as her own universe in which she dwells. Her work is mostly figurative, and often depicts portraits of colourful characters with prominent queer and feminist themes; who defy sexual and gender stereotypes, and transcend traditional notions of beauty. Her art explores societal attitudes toward women and the oppression and objectification they endure, with strong themes of obsession, mental health, and substance abuse. Kirsty infuses these topics with humour and a child-like exuberance; with simplification and distortion of forms, and a brazen use of colour. In 2013, she faced her substance abuse and addictions that had overshadowed her life for 17 years, began her powerful, transformative journey of recovery. What began as an avid sketchbook practice, soon exploded into a full-blown art addiction. In 2014 she passionately redirected her focus from fashion & costumes to visual art, and rediscovered herself as an artist. Her work is often autobiographical, and her series “Warning Signs” delves into her drug addiction, recovery, and co-occurring bipolar disorder. These works focus on the anxiety, paranoia, frenzied obsession, and mood swings that come with the detrimental relationship of chemical dependency. The surreal sculptures and mixed media collages are dark yet whimsical and witty; some depicting the “third eye”, and how that is often blocked while in addiction. The 6th chakra or “third eye” featured prominently in her work, after experiencing a spiritual awakening in recovery, and becoming more in tune with this concept through her avid Kundalini and meditation practice.
Kirsty has shown her work internationally, in numerous group exhibitions in London, UK and Toronto, Canada. Several of her works from “Warning Signs” were in "Chemcraft" (Christina Mitrentse Projects, Espacio Gallery, London, UK 2015), and "Prescriptions" (The Beaney museum, Canterbury, UK 2016). She has appeared on a BBC One interior design show, and been interviewed in i-D, to name a few, and some of her clients include The Guardian, and Teen Vogue. She currently “lives her art” in her magical maximalist studio home in East London.


2001-2005 Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), BFA Apparel Design


"The Cat Ladies", POW Thanet 2018 , The Pie Factory, Margate, UK Private view Mar 8 5-9pm (Mar 8-13th)

"Christmas show" at Gallery 286, London UK Dec 6-24

"Prescriptions" at Beaney Art Museum, Canterbury, UK April 21st - Sept 25, 2016

"Hand Maid" exhibition at Hoxton Arches, London UK March 5th-9th, 2016 (Private view: Mar 5, 8pm-late)

"50 Fridas" at East End Prints, London, UK March 17th - 31st, 2016


Mar 2018 The Cat Ladies, The Pie Factory, Margate, UK
Aug 2019 DSST #1, Turner Contemporary, Margate UK
July 2018 The Sex Show, Viking Gallery, Margate UK
April 2018 Festival of Cats, Viking Gallery, Margate UK
Nov -Jul 2018 Sweet’16, Jaguar Shoes, London, UK
Sept 2017 FemFest, Ugly Duck, London, UK
July 2017 Afternoon Tea, Chiara Williams Contemporary, Margate, UK
Dec 2016 Christmas show, Gallery 286, London UK
Apr-Sep 2016 Prescriptions, Beaney Art Museum, Canterbury, UK
Mar 2016 50 Fridas, East End Prints, London, UK
Mar 2016 Hand Maid, Hoxton Arches, London UK
Dec 2015 Sweet 'Art Takeaway for Outskirts Charity, Espacio Gallery, London, UK

Dec 2015 Not Just For Christmas, Gallery 286, London, UK

Oct 2015 Animal Farm, CUNTemporary, London, ‬UK
Sept 2015 Arternative Playground, The Rag Factory, London, UK
Aug 2015 Punch, Espacio Gallery, London UK
July 2015 Chemcraft, Espacio Gallery, London
July 2015 YFA: Young Feminist Artists, The Old Bath House, London, UK
Apr 2015 Y NOT?, Espacio Gallery, London UK
Feb 2015 POP Living, Schwartz Gallery, London
Oct 2014 Alternative Miss World, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, London, UK
Feb 2012 Art Fashion Show, Egg Nightclub, London UK
Oct 2010 Off Camera, Blue Moon Gallery, Toronto, ON
Aug 2010 Square Foot Show, AWOL Gallery, Toronto, ON
Apr 2010 Alternative Arts & Fashion Week (FAT), Toronto, ON
Apr 2009 Alternative Arts & Fashion Week (FAT), Toronto, ON
Aug 2008 Gladstone Staff Art show, Gladstone Hotel, Toronto
Apr 2008 Alternative Arts & Fashion Week (FAT), Toronto, ON
Apr 2006 The Coloring Book (Slow Jams Band performance), PS1 MoMA, Brooklyn, NY
June 2005 RISD Fashion show, Providence, RI
May 2005 RISD Senior Apparel exhibition, Woods Gerry Gallery, Providence, RI
June 2004 RISD Fashion show, Providence, RI
June 2003 RISD Fashion show, Providence, RI