New commission: "Playing With Fire"

Kelly M. O'Brien, Playing With Fire No. 14 (detail). Paper, gold leaf, flame. 30 x 24 inches. ©2015.

Kelly M. O'Brien, Playing With Fire No. 14 (detail). Paper, gold leaf, flame. 30 x 24 inches. ©2015.

I'm very pleased to share that I just completed two commissioned pieces for the Marriott Hotel and Conference Center in Franklin, Tennessee. They are larger versions of the Playing With Fire work that I did in 2013 to exhibit as part of Marseille-Provence Culture Capital 2013 programming.

The two commissioned pieces are much larger (30 x 24 inches) and will be matted and mounted in 3-inch deep box frames to become 72 x 54 inches. They will hang on opposite walls in a corridor at the conference center. I'm very eager to see final installation photos!

Kelly M. O'Brien, Playing With Fire No. 14 and No. 15. Paper, gold leaf, flame. 30 x 24 inches each. ©2015.

Kelly M. O'Brien, Playing With Fire No. 14 and No. 15. Paper, gold leaf, flame. 30 x 24 inches each. ©2015.

Scaling up to the larger size was a challenge. Not only are the materials trickier to work with, but there's a lot of smoke involved. Because the work is created by burning the paper, I couldn't do it in my studio indoors. We have an semi-finished stone outbuilding on our property that I converted to a temporary studio. It's dry and clean enough, after some elbow grease, to be suitable for this paradoxically messy yet pristine kind of work.

Kelly M. O'Brien, Playing With Fire No. 14 (detail). Paper, gold leaf, flame. 30 x 24 inches. ©2015.

Kelly M. O'Brien, Playing With Fire No. 14 (detail). Paper, gold leaf, flame. 30 x 24 inches. ©2015.

Playing With Fire explores the tension between control and letting go. Fire as a medium forces me to let go – it is unpredictable, and simultaneously destructive and creative in how it interacts with paper. Fire also represents a fine line that fascinates me about what we allow ourselves to have in life. How can we have light, heat, spark and glow without self-destructing? As black and white as this work appears, for me it's all about finding a happy medium.

Kelly M. O'Brien, Playing With Fire No. 14 (detail). Paper, gold leaf, flame. 30 x 24 inches. ©2015.

Kelly M. O'Brien, Playing With Fire No. 14 (detail). Paper, gold leaf, flame. 30 x 24 inches. ©2015.

As I entrusted the carefully packaged work to the nice FedEx International shipping men yesterday, I said a silent prayer to Hermes that they arrive in good shape to the framers in Atlanta before their final journey to Nashville. Special thanks to Shannon Douglas at Soho Myriad, the fine art consulting firm who brokered the project. I look forward to doing more!

Both pieces ready for packaging (and tail end of my studio assistant, Astro, left). Kelly M. O'Brien, Playing With Fire No. 14 and No. 15. Paper, gold leaf, flame. 30 x 24 inches each. ©2015.

Both pieces ready for packaging (and tail end of my studio assistant, Astro, left). Kelly M. O'Brien, Playing With Fire No. 14 and No. 15. Paper, gold leaf, flame. 30 x 24 inches each. ©2015.