glass

Glass is a material recently introduced to my practice. I was drawn to working with it because it embodies the tension between strength and fragility. There is a step in the fabrication of hand-blown hot glass called “gathering“ when you collect the molten sand mixture. In addition to the material qualities of glass, this notion of amassing material inside of a crucible of transformative heat is an interesting fit for my practice as I think about the state of our world, hope, and levers of change such as activism.

Kelly M O’Brien,  This May Be Under the Stated Weight (Aftermath) , detail. Steel, glass, paper, thread, tulle, plastic. 230 x 350 x 122 cm ©2019

Kelly M O’Brien, This May Be Under the Stated Weight (Aftermath), detail. Steel, glass, paper, thread, tulle, plastic. 230 x 350 x 122 cm ©2019

Kelly M. O'Brien,  Tricky Balance  (detail). Paper, thread, tulle, painted steel, rock. ©2018

Kelly M. O'Brien, Tricky Balance (detail). Paper, thread, tulle, painted steel, rock. ©2018

paper

Paper has long attracted me to its paradoxical qualities of ephemeral strength. Even when manipulated in seemingly destructive ways - scoring, burning, stitching, tearing, repairing - what emerges is often more interesting than the original form. I am interested in how materials can transform and reinvent themselves into something new.

I give them challenges and jobs that subvert their apparent abilities. My use of materials turns hierarchy on its head as I seek strategies of collective resistance and strength to find solutions within the tension.

other materials

I am also starting to look at other materials, selected for their precarity and potential to transform into something beyond their obvious use or inherent ability.

In looking for ways to express resilience, hope, and transformation, I recently introduced live plants and light into the work. There is a long list of materials I would like to explore. I will remain open to them, while aiming to work with relevant candidates long enough that I can rule them in or out of my expanding palette.

Kelly M O’Brien,  Galanthus (Spring is Coming) , detail. Steel, wood, thread, tulle, tape, foam pipe insulation, plastic, cast cement, ceramic tiles, plants, soil, grow lamps, glass. 166 x 217 x 74 cm. ©2019

Kelly M O’Brien, Galanthus (Spring is Coming), detail. Steel, wood, thread, tulle, tape, foam pipe insulation, plastic, cast cement, ceramic tiles, plants, soil, grow lamps, glass. 166 x 217 x 74 cm. ©2019