Kelly

O'Brien

When I witness low moments in my cultural peer group, I feel inclined to make visual reactions to them in my studio.

 

I think about the superficial concerns we are bombarded with everyday, through abstractions of laziness and stupidity in sculptural form.

 

After I think, I feel guilt. I feel guilt about making flashy work about shallow "problems", and the lazy, stupid work becomes self-portraiture.

 

I am not better than my exploited peers, I just have a mirror I can hold up to them, instead of one directly aimed at myself.

Painting is what initially gets me down into my studio, which is the basement of my rental house.

 

Painting is meditative to me, and allows time and mental space for my sculptures to get sorted out.

 

I generally believe that sculpture is more effective for me in creating empathy from a viewer, due to its simple nature of existing in real space and real time, versus the illusionary quality inherent to painting.

 

I sculpt to show raw life moments, and I paint to elaborate them.

 

On occasion, when I get the privilege of having more space, I create site-specific installations. I use installation to infect and overwhelm the viewer, shaking their expected place in space, as opposed to their relationship to an object or image, providing an additional experience to transfer my ideas to people.

 

When attempting to jolt someone out of an unquestioned, consumerist routine, it can be a necessity to siege the entire room when competing with the endlessly entertaining and ever-present iPhone.

I find value in disregarded cultural trash. Our decompression tendencies expose our guilty pleasures. We choose to disengage and the distraction is a privilege. Can worth be reinstated to this slacker behavior if examined against art history?

 

Through satirical humor, I hope to suggest a critique of our learned art world, challenging obvious assumptions we routinely accept and enact. Stereotypes and generalizations of hierarchical materials visually wrestle for the spotlight. Expectations of what is considered historically or culturally valuable are exaggerated for these compositional battles.  With heroic art practices such as oil painting and the structural trust gained through my sculptural forms, I defend the integrity of conceptual art.

 

This contemporary issue is reflected in an art historical context in an article written by Emma Brockes about minimalist Carl Andres. They state, "We live in a linguistic culture and everything has to be turned into language. People don't understand anything until you've explained it."This is a form of visual obtuseness that comes from being raised on television – "which absolutely deadens the imagination and deadens the senses. You just sit there with your mouth open."

My material of choice is spandex. Spandex, unlike other fabrics, is tied to the body, mainly the female body, and is a brutally honest, unforgiving material. By using this association, the viewer may automatically think of the body. Tawdry in its presentation, yet initially an expensive fabric, if the wearer assumes the brazen qualities assigned to spandex, does my work as well? With heroic art practices like oil painting, the structural trust is gained through the sculptural forms, I can rescue the integrity of this innocent material. This mimics the relationship I have with my middle-class American culture. Values are often prioritized in superficial order, and I feel guilty for mindlessly following this easy way of recreation sometimes. The lazy forms I and sculpting and painting are mental exaggerations of my bad habits, especially when I know better.

As Richard Serra once stated when referencing installation art, "To remove the work is to destroy it", when ordered to move a site specific sculpture. He meant physically moving it, but now this idea can be applied to moving work to digital platforms as well. When a three-dimensional object is flattened, photographed from a set distance and a set viewpoint, the experience is lost, which is the magic of creating a real object in real space to begin with. Opportunities to discover and relate to the piece are gone, essentially changing the work.