Dr. Anita McKeown

PhD Supervisor, SMARTlab


Anita McKeown (PhD, FRSA, MAAG) is an interdisciplinary artist, curator, scholar and educator, interested in Creative Placemaking and Open Source Culture and Technology. As a long-term associate researcher of SMARTlab she continues to work across the intersection of arts, technology and social change through arts-led education, outreach and PhD supervision. Her recent research (2015) explored emergence and self-organisation within Creative Placemaking, through the development of a bespoke systemic framework including a practical toolkit piloted in the UK, Ireland and USA. As Art Services Unincorporated (ASU, 2004) an itinerant strategic platform, Anita employs a range of tactics including situated arts practice, publication and STEAM education to co-create local-scale interventions that are context-responsive and ecologically sensitive, which arise from extended relationships with people and place. She has worked for a number of organisations within the arts, including ART.e @ the art of change, Lewisham Youth Theatre, Irene Taylor Trust/Music in Prisons, Razor Edge Theatre Company and Heart N Soul Theatre Company, utilising her extensive experience of project development and management as well as cross-arts experience within a range of contexts. In 2016, Anita began a long-term collaboration with Amigos Bravos’ Beautiful Midden project; an arts activism project that applies arts-led systemic thinking to the issue of water and waste. In 2013, she became part of the The Paseo core development team, who initiated The Paseo arts festival, NM (2013) and continues as an advisory board member and her relationship with LEAP, beginning in 2013 includes artistic collaborations, project development and management. Recognition of her artistic practice includes appointment as the first Artist in Residence in the Rio Grande Del Norte National Monument, (2013) and recipient of a BRAVO award, for Memphis 45s, a digital AV motion sensor project (Memphis, TN. USA (2004) and the only non-American citizen awardee. As an elected fellow to the Royal Society of Arts (2008) with over 80 exhibitions, performances and residencies to date she presents her collaborative, participatory practice nationally and internationally within arts and non-arts arenas. As an educator within formal (MA and PhD supervision) and informal learning situations; prisons, youth and community organisations Anita utilises a systemic approach through project / practice based learning. Elected to the Placemaking Leadership Council, an international placemaking initiative in 2013, led to her invitation to contribute to the development of the Pratt Institute’s MA in Urban Placemaking and Public Space Management, the USA’s first Masters programme in Placemaking. Previously, Director of the CATALYST initiative at SMARTlab, UCD, she has been involved in technology for social change projects since 2000, working to develop formal and informal learning across art, ecology and STEM subjects. In 2011 / 12 she was education co-theme leader for ISEA 2012 Machine Wilderness with Agnes Chavez who she continues to work with as an education consultant on STEAM projects e.g. Open Source STEAM curriculum 1.0: an arts-led curriculum exploring next generation science concepts through design thinking (2011 / 12) and the LANL STEM Arts challenge utilising LANL lab projects, 21st century blended arts-led learning to engage NM high school students in a real world project to design the future. Working across the Arts and Social Science paradigms, she develops and evaluates interdisciplinary research projects across a range of scales, data set scales and research topics with a particular focus on innovative methodologies and projects. Recent preliminary research for Census of the Heart, (2016) to gain insights into themes and familiarity with the data set to indentified research directions for further investigation. She has also undertaken independent evaluation for Dublin City Council / UCD (2015) TURAS WP3, Urban/Industrial Regeneration, Land Use planning and Creative Design. The TURAS project is a 5 year European Union funded project that involves 28 partners in Europe: http://www.turas-cities.org/. In 2012 – 14, the Danceability research project positioned the role of integrated dance research within a research-intensive university with a widening participation agenda to explore the triple-helix approach to knowledge production. Anita continues to collaborate with a range of arts and education organisations in Ireland and the USA, working at the intersection of expanded art practices, community development and local, national and international policy making.
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