John Kelly




I am a performance and visual artist. My performance work focuses on identity and the struggles encountered by artists and social outsiders. I have embodied characters and explored social issues including the expressionist artist Egon Schiele, the cross-dressing aerialist Barbette, Orpheus, Antonin Artaud, Joni Mitchell, and the AIDS pandemic. ‘Underneath The Skin’, a group dance theatre work based on the life of gay novelist and tattoo artist Samuel Steward, premiered at the Skirball Center for the Performing Arts in 2019, and will have an extended run at La MaMa in 2021. My visual practice is based in self-portraiture realized through illustration, photography and video. I am currently completed my first graphic novel ‘A Friend Gave Me A Book’ - comprised of 250 hand-drawn panels, this autobiographical work is based on a trapeze accident that morphs into an alternate Caravaggio-esque reality.

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