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During her time at NES, Kellie Zhao has been experimenting with new mediums, adding the use of colorful markers, pens, and inks to her range of skills. Before, she would only use vibrant colors in the forgiving mediums of oil paint and Adobe Illustrator. In her last week with NES, she also found some time to put together a proposal for a design challenge on longevity. 

Kellie is so grateful to have had the opportunity to live in Skagastrond these past few weeks, where the crashing ocean, the eclectic houses, the midday golden hour, and the dramatic backdrop of Spakonufellsborg have inspired her drawings. A highlight of her experience was watching the teens from the local school surprise themselves with their perspective drawing skills. She will especially miss soaking in a hot tub beneath a pitch black sky, losing at Dutch Blitz, the seals and the furry horses, and the warm people that have welcomed her with open arms into their community. She might even miss the whiffs of fish by the harbor, just a tiny bit. 

Kellie is studying to be an architect while continuing her art practice. She was based in NYC for the past 6 years, where she studied architectural history at Columbia University, worked as a Design Consultant for the World Trade Center, and wrote freelance pieces for an architectural publication in her free time. She is relocating to Boston at the end of this year to continue her studies in the Master of Architecture program at Harvard University Graduate School of Design. It’s a little early to say exactly what this will look like, but she hopes to design spaces and programs that will make good design more accessible to all individuals, regardless of background or income. 

You can find more of Kellie’s work on her website and at