Kelly O’Connor

Last Resort
Thu Mar 21, 2013 - Thu May 9, 2013

Resort: 1. To have recourse. 2. A place frequented by people for relaxation and recreation. Both definitions of resort apply to this exhibition. Collage and mixed media works framed on the wall will compliment the creation of a site-specific cave like geodesic dome.

“In collage, works on paper, and installation-based work, O’Connor’s familiar subjects undergo surreal, psychedelic, hypnotic, and other unsettling transformations.”
–Rene Barilleaux, Chief Curator, The McNay Art Museum

Drawing on the allegory of American consciousness through the use of iconic characters, O’Connor’s work is derived from a combination of memory, fantasy, and pop culture. The mythological characters, built around enduring western cultural ideals, permeate her subconscious. Her art exposes complexities behind the thin public façades that we readily embrace.

The scenes she creates are the calcified remains of a culture focused on production and destruction, such as in “The Rise and Fall”, 2012. By appropriating idealized American landscapes, including Carlsbad Caverns and Yellowstone National Park, and creating a non-linear narrative, she intentionally leaves the situation ambiguous in order for the viewer to relate their own experiences to the suggested scenarios. She creates an immortal or dreamlike space. Many of the women characters have a look of artificial bliss or antidepressant-driven happiness, while many of the male characters represent the ominous “man behind the curtain.” At times they are hypnotized or controlled by intoxicating products or appliances.

Playing with color and scale is central to her process. Sickly sweet, candy-colored surfaces are combined with colored paper sampled from vintage record covers. The contrast of sparkling rays and bright neon against weathered, dull tones acts as a metaphor for dualities within our society. Appropriated images, enlarged from their original source to exaggerate their apparent content, introduce nostalgic and familiar themes. These images are drawn from film and popular magazines, primarily from the 1950’s and 1960’s. She prefers this time period because the line quality of the drawings is minimal and the subjects are rich with American idealism.