Garbage Paintings by KellyAnne Hanrahan



I began this series of oil paintings in 2013 by scrutinizing the relationships human animals have with non-human animals in our shared environment. It started with snakes - humans fear them as deadly enemies, but will also pay to have a stranger wrap one around their neck for a souvenir picture. I find this fascinating. We cast ourselves in many roles as we live together with other animals - savior of threatened species, tamer of the wild, master of the slave.We anthropomorphize them, perform with them to entertain other humans, and stage moments of dominance to assert our physical prowess.

Around 2015, I started to become very interested in the survival behaviors that human and non-human animals display in common. Rendering the motions of behaviors like eating, feeding, finding a mate, and fighting in all animals.


I have come to realize through these studies that I'm especially absorbed with humans. The political climate of 2016 inspired me to create a series that was inspired by a list I saw churning around the internet. Using the descriptions the author used, I painted his tidy intellectual categorization of human behavior, which was a delightful challenge to situate in a natural outdoor environment.


I love exploring the modern human notion of "the outdoors": camping. When I go camping, I'm intrigued by the way people behave when they are sleeping, eating, and generally behaving while outside. I was very interested in how humans recreationally camp across the world in this modern age, so I started exploring videos from every nook of the globe. Turns out, many people seem to be uncomfortable and bored when outdoors. They also enjoy drinking copious amounts of alcohol.


I began this latest chapter, "50 States of Being Outside," in February 2018 and completed it in October 2018. After spending the better part of 2017 depicting the way people camp all over the world, I got interested again in outside behavior of the USA people in particular. The 50-painting series is not focused on the landscape or culture of the state painted, but general perceptions of being outside.

PEOPLE BEING OUTSIDE (current series)

I have for years been interested in UFO abduction stories, and while completing my "50 States" series, I kept getting visions of crowds in a natural setting with a UFO hovering. Maybe not an actual object, but some kind of colorful force. Not sure what it all means, but I have been furiously painting depictions of it. Check back later for a more clear description of this series (when I realize myself what it is all about.)

I exclusively paint with oil. Nothing feels more natural to me than sculpting a surface with a thick helping of pure color. Color is my vehicle for describing the things I'm thinking about, and I often use it in severe ways; whether it be stripping down the natural colors of nature, over-exposing shapes to reveal almost pure white, or obscuring most of the color and using a lot of black.




2017 Catalog

2016 Catalog


garbage paintings

older paintings


About KellyAnne Hanrahan

Born: Chicago, 1972. I began thinking seriously about art at the age of 14 when I fortuitously got the chance to take painting lessons from Marie Burton, a student of Ivan Albright. She taught me the fundamentals of oil painting - technique, mediums, color mixing - and focused on having me recreate master pieces and paint landscapes and portraits. By the time I was 16, I wanted to break with tradition and begin experimenting. I applied to the Early College Program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and was accepted. When it was time to choose an art school, SAIC was my choice.

While a student at SAIC, I began in the painting department doing a series of circus freaks on unstretched canvas with black ink and watered down acrylics. Using this series got me accepted into a foreign exchange program and I spent 1992 in Manchester, England exploring circus freakery on canvas at Manchester Metropolitan University.

After a year back in Chicago, I got interested in doing comic books and started my own series. Using this series, I again applied and got accepted to a foreign exchange program which allowed me to spend 1994 in Nottingham, England drawing comics.

In 1995, after graduating from SAIC with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting, I had my first painting show (with painter Thor Alward) in Wicker Park, Chicago at the Flat Iron building.

In 1997, I set up an illustration business ( and in 1999 I moved my studio to New York City.

From 2006 - 2013, I concentrated on my garbage series, and it was shown for the first time at RePop (Brooklyn) in April 2013.

The "4-H Club Sheep" is the first painting of this "Oil Paintings of Animals" series to be shown, appearing in a group show at The Greenpoint Gallery in May 2014.

For the last 5 years, my paintings have been exhibited as part of the annual Kyoto International Art Exhibition at the Kyoto Municipal Museum. Also in October 2014, I exhibited my triptych "Anteaters" at the Kyoto City International Community House Gallery.

The Oil Paintings of Animals series has been alive since the summer of 2013. Check back for more animals!