Kelly M O’Brien is an American mixed media sculptor who lives and works near Bath, England. She is currently pursuing a Master of Fine Art at Bath Spa University with an expected degree award by the end of 2019.
You can download Kelly's current CV here.
My emerging practice explores themes of power/powerlessness, precariousness, and resilience. I am interested in how these dynamics are expressed through materials that I choose specifically for their fragility and propensity to fail. I pair minimalist strategies with organic expressive materials to explore human issues.
Through trial and error, I amass seemingly delicate materials until they acquire collective agency and strength. Sorting out the inevitable falling apart of these experiments teaches me about their resilience. I negotiate a delicate, sometimes uneasy agreement with the materials, testing their abilities to rise to the task at hand.
To anchor my perspective, I have been reading the work of Judith Butler, Michel Foucault, Jacques Rancière, Rebecca Solnit, and Rebecca Traister (among others) and their ideas on power, subjugation, agency, and resistance (historical and contemporary forms). I particularly like what Butler says that "to act with the material and to be complicit with it, actually means to investigate societal power relations“ (Bodies That Matter, 1993). Also resonant for my practice is Petra Lang-Berndt’s notion of “focusing on the moments when materials become willful actors and agents within artistic processes” (Materiality, 2015).