Interview with BATH SPA MAFA

Detail of "A Cover for Some Secret Fragility", a wall installation of three small sculptures. Kelly M O’Brien ©2019

Detail of "A Cover for Some Secret Fragility", a wall installation of three small sculptures. Kelly M O’Brien ©2019


The grading deadlines for my masters degree in fine art have passed, which means I can focus all my energy on our Final Degree Show. Follow me on Instagram for sneak peeks of my work.

In preparation for the show, I sat down with my MFA colleague Esther Tyler-Ward to discuss my exploration into new-to-me materials, including the challenge of using hand blown glass in my art. You can listen to our chat here:


Now that you’ve heard about my process, come see the culmination of master's degree research by over 30 students in fine art, ceramics, textiles, visual communications, and curatorial practice.

If you're in the region, you are cordially invited to join me for our MA Degree Show.

Please note that this is a venue change to the Sion Hill Campus. We're hosting an Opening Night that's free to the public, a Closing Night with live music, and events (artist talks, panel discussions, workshops) in between facilitated by the Curatorial Practice students. The main details are below and you can get fresh updates here.

September Studio Update

September Studio Update

It's been a month of school-focused commitments, an exhibition to mark the half-way point in my MFA, plus a bit of jail cell magic sprinkled into the mix (no, I didn't commit a crime).

August Studio Update: Wrapping Up

August Studio Update: Wrapping Up

August has been a nice balance between head-down work at my school studio in the thick of research and gearing up for some great opportunities and client work in the autumn.

MA Fine Art Open Studios at Bath Spa University

This coming Wednesday evening and most of Thursday, the 6th-7th November, we're having Open Studios for my MA Fine Art program at Bath Spa University. There's all kinds of interesting things happening in our studios - if you have a moment, pop in! I'd love to see you there. Details below.

In the Face of Everything, We Did It

Our fourth group exhibition of the artist collective CKCK opened to a packed house and continues to garner great feedback and support. I couldn't be happier with the look and feel of the Stadtgalerie Bad Soden upon finishing our installation. Once again, despite having four very different practices, our sum is greater than each of us alone. 

Our CKCK colleague Chris Kircher has more images from the show on her blog here.

Opening night for  In the   Face of Everything , Stadtgalerie Bad Soden. Image: Claudia Neumann

Opening night for In the Face of Everything, Stadtgalerie Bad Soden. Image: Claudia Neumann

Here's is an excerpt from our statement about the exhibition's theme:

While the larger context of global events is reflected part of their work, the time since their last group exhibition has been particularly challenging for each of these artists, as they have dealt with experiences such as serious illness, loss, dislocation, and trauma.

The work shown here reflects an unflinching choice to look directly at things, clear-eyed and honestly. It is in turning toward the difficult issues that they are illuminated and given space to be acknowledged.

At a time when a string of unrelenting crises challenge us as a society, what matters is how we respond. We are not immune from life's greatest tests, but we can choose how to navigate through and beyond them.

This exhibition is a story of grit, resilience, hope and love. The choice to continue moving forward with courage and compassion, in the face of everything.

My work for this exhibition consists of two sewn-paper series: Object (Im)permanence and Mending | Tending. I began both of these series during the 20-month period of my father's terminal illness and finished several of the pieces after he died in March. Sharing such private themes so publically - both in talking with people individually about the work and during my artist talk - has been part of coming to terms with this loss. The details remain private, but the themes are universal and people responded in kind.

Sewn paper art and installations for the CKCK artist collective group exhibition, "In the Face of Everything," Bad Soden Stadtgalerie, September 2017.

The two-dimensional sewn paper pieces moved from the wall into the room, hinting at where this work might take me next. Likewise, the wall installation of torn and mended paper fragments took on a life of its own, transforming into something map-like, at a scale that reminded me of how moving my body in space to make art feels like home and something I want to do more of.

In the Face of Everything | Jetzt erst recht continues through Sunday, 24 September, with artist talks by Chris Kircher and Katja v. Ruville on that day at 4PM at the Stadtgalerie Bad Soden.

Playing With Fire Now Showing at Galerie Uhn

My exhibition at Galerie Uhn in Königstein, near Frankfurt, Germany opened with an enthusiastic gathering, highlighted by a classical music trio, reunions with dear friends, and a great response to my new work.

I also gave an artist talk on September 2nd, when I had an opportunity to discuss this work in public for the first time, using a Q&A format led by gallery owner Jimin Leyrer.

A very big thank you to Jimin and her family for lots of generous support and hard work to make this a great show, and to Ann-Katrin Sura for hosting a delightful gathering after the Vernissage.

There's also a brief article about the exhibition here (open the link with Chrome and it can translate for you).

The exhibition runs until 28 September.

Exhibition: Playing With Fire at Galerie Uhn

Galerie Uhn's brochure for my upcoming solo exhibition just went out, a copy below. The work is all finished and framed, ready for the long drive to Germany in a couple of weeks. I'm renting a long-ish van for trek, as some of the work that I'm bringing for this show and our CKCK group exhibition is too large for my SUV. Shipping so much work is cost-prohibitive. Eurotunnel, here I come - oh, the glamorous life of an artist!

Save the Dates: August 25th and September 1st Vernissages in Germany

On Friday, August 25th I'll be at Galerie Uhn in Königstein-im-Taunus, Germany for the opening of my second solo exhibition with the gallery. I'm excited to debut my burned paper sculpture series, Playing With Fire, for German collectors. 

Kelly M. O'Brien,  Playing With Fire No. 43 (Orange) , detail. Paper, spray paint, flame. 28 x 28 x .5 inches. ©2017.

Kelly M. O'Brien, Playing With Fire No. 43 (Orange), detail. Paper, spray paint, flame. 28 x 28 x .5 inches. ©2017.

I'll be in town until September 3rd, installing another exhibition in nearby Bad Soden with my artist collective CKCK, which opens on September 1st. I'll be showing different work there, including Object (Im)permanence and Mending | Tending.

Kelly M. O'Brien, work in progress from Mending | Tending series. ©2017.

Kelly M. O'Brien, work in progress from Mending | Tending series. ©2017.

So if you're in the Frankfurt area, we have lots of opportunities to see each other - I would love that.

In the meantime, I've got my head down working on pieces for both shows, plus commissions. It'll be a happy race to the finish!

Playing With Fire | Galerie Uhn | 25 August – September 28, 2017 | Vernissage: Friday, 25 August, 19:00 | Königstein, Germany

In the Face of Everything | Stadtgalerie Bad Soden | September 2 - 24, 2017 | Vernissage: Friday, 1 September, 19:00 | Bad Soden, Germany

Exhibition: Art+Text 2017

Art+Text 2017 opened this week at 44AD artspace in Bath, co-curated by Sveta Antonova and myself. We had a nice pool of submissions to choose from, ending up with a collection of work by artists from all over the UK, as well as the US, Europe and Australia.

The work spans a range of mediums - video, print, sculpture, installation, performance, painting - and even spills into the surrounding city. It's been so inspiring to see the innovative ways that artists are using text in art!

I'm pleased with the response my own installation is getting, Postcards from the Edge. As an American living in the UK during the 2016 Brexit vote, and then the US Presidential election, I've watched in dismay as events have unfolded on both sides of the Atlantic. For the installation, I created four different postcard designs and printed them as monotypes, with messages to President Trump and Prime Minister May respectively. At the end of the exhibition, I'll collect all completed postcards and mail them to the respective heads of state.

Art+Text 2017 is open through February 26, daily 12 to 6 pm and Sunday 1 to 4 pm. There's a closing reception on Sunday, Feb. 26 at 3pm at 44AD artspace, 44 Abbey Street, Bath, BA1 1NN.


Exhibition: Everything is Fine with Betsy

I'll be back in Germany for the third group exhibition, Everything is Fine with Betsy, of our Frankfurt-based artist collective, CKCK. If you're in the area, please come see me, even if it's for a quick hello and hug! We'll be at grassgruen* to install all week, starting April 18th. The Opening is Friday, April 22 at 7pm. I'll be in town until Monday the 25th.

In conjunction with Betsy, we're publishing our first group catalog, now available for pre-order. I'm so happy with the result! The catalog will also be available for purchase at our Vernissage on the 22nd.

We're also offering two sets of artists talks: Sunday, 24 April @3pm will be me and Claudia Grom; Saturday, 30 April will be Chris Kircher and Katja v. Ruville. Details about each talk here.

Everything is Fine with Betsy

April 22 - May 1, 2016

grassgruen* | Vogelbergstrasse 38, 60316 Frankfurt

Opening: 22 April @7pm


Exhibition: "Accordingly - Art+Text"

How I love the combination of art and text! The influence of the book arts has never really left my work, as I'm always fighting the urge to add text to my paintings, prints and sculpture.

Happily, the two will coexist in an upcoming group exhibition that includes several of my Hard Tryer pieces. Curated by Graeme Hobbs and Robert Lee, the exhibition will be at 44AD ArtSpace in Bath.

Accordingly...Art+Text | 44AD ArtSpace | 4 Abbey Street, Bath, BA1 1NN

November 3 - 8, 2015 | Private View: November 7th, 6 to 8 pm

Exhibition: "Time and Place" at the RUH

Image: Fiona Mackenzie-Spence

Image: Fiona Mackenzie-Spence

Last night was the Opening for Time and Place, an exhibition at the Royal United Hospital (RUH) here in Bath. Two of my most recent pieces from the New Country series are included in the show.

This exhibition explores how artists have been inspired by landscapes, seasons and nature both real and imaginary. The pieces selected are abstract, contemporary, representational or even of another world.

Time and Place  exhibition at the RUH.  Blink and You'll Miss Her  (left) and  But Do You Really See Me?  (right), overpainted photos on canvas. ©2015 Kelly M. O'Brien.

Time and Place exhibition at the RUH. Blink and You'll Miss Her (left) and But Do You Really See Me? (right), overpainted photos on canvas. ©2015 Kelly M. O'Brien.

It was great to see the support for this award-winning program at the RUH—local officials, hospital leadership, volunteers, artists and other guests enthusiastically wandered the long hospital halls to take in the art. The impact on patients, staff and other visitors has proven to be very positive and healing.

A big thank you to Carol Carey and everyone at Somerset Art Works for facilitating this exhibition, as well as myriad other opportunities throughout Somerset during the Art Weeks Festival '15.

Time and Place
October 9, 2015 - January 15, 2016

Royal United Hospital (The RUH) | Combe Park | Bath, BA1 3NG

Open daily 8am–8pm (Central Corridor, Zone B and Courtyards)

New Etsy Shop!

Last week I launched an online shop for my New Country series on Etsy, the world's largest online marketplace for makers and people who love fine handmade goods. After a positive debut for the work at this month's Bath Artisan Market and people asking me if it was available online to buy, I decided to open this new shop.

You'll find fun gifts for the cow, sheep and chicken lovers in your life, or maybe a little Modern Farmhouse décor for your own kitchen. For now, I'm offering high-quality art prints, greeting cards and postcards, all created from my original paintings. Other products are underway, including farm animal flag buntings.

For my first ten customers, you get a 25% discount and a special thank you gift. Please use coupon code FIRST10 when you check out. I take it as a good sign that I woke up the day after the shop launched to a sale from a dairy farmer in Maryland.

The holidays are just around the corner. If you want to take advantage of inexpensive international shipping rates from England, shop now!

The Artists Were Present at Galerie Uhn

The artists were all present at Friday's Galerie Uhn Vernissage for the artist is not present, along with a fine gathering of friends, collectors, and Königstein locals.

The exhibition features an installation of Lichtobjekte by Katja v. Ruville, scrapmetal sculpture by Chris Kircher, videos and an installation by Claudia Grom, and overpainted photographs by Kelly O'Brien.

Presence took some effort. Kelly drove from her home near Bath, England to deliver new work and help install the exhibition during the week. Claudia navigated a six-hour time zone difference from her current location in Bali, not only to direct the installation of her work, but to participate by Skype in the Vernissage.

Many thanks to everyone who came out to the Taunus for the event! We are especially grateful to Frau Jimin Leyrer of Galerie Uhn for mounting our exhibition and hosting the event. Special thanks to Pat Roth for the photographs.

Our work is available at the gallery until August 28th. Opening hours are Tuesday through Friday, 12:00 - 17:00 and Saturday 10:00 - 13:00. Galerie Uhn is closed for summer holiday July 31 - August 15.

We invite your presence! Please stop in, bring a friend, and enjoy a cup of green tea while you browse.

Next up for the Joint Portfolio Project: NIH

Next up for the Joint Portfolio Project: The National Institutes of Health Gallery in Bethesda, Maryland. The exhibition opened last Saturday and runs through September 11. We are also preparing for our next stop at the Bristol Art Museum in Bristol, Rhode Island.

The project's founder, Carol Strause FitzSimonds, recently interviewed me. She is preparing for a discussion panel on the project, to be hosted by the museum as part of the Opening events.

CSF: Why did you do this portfolio project?

KO: My situation is a bit different in that I am a former Printmakers, Inc. member who lives overseas. It felt great to be invited and I saw the project as a way to continue my relationship with the studio. When I was a member, we did something similar for the group's 35th anniversary and it was very rewarding.

CSF: What did you personally get out of the experience?

KO: Continued connection to a group of artists that I like and respect. An introduction to the talented printmakers of the Providence Art Club. Exposure for my work in ways I could not have garnered on my own. The satisfaction of being part of something beautiful and professionally done.

CSF: How much of your time was required to meet this committee? Biggest challenge?

KO: Developing and producing the print edition took about a month. I've also helped out with marketing by managing the project's Facebook page, which has been fun. The biggest challenge has been being so far away! I wish I could be at all of the exhibitions and meet other artists who are part of the collaboration.

Exhibition: "the artist is not present" at Galerie Uhn

Claudia Grom, 2015,    The Man in the Moon   ,   Video

Claudia Grom, 2015, The Man in the Moon, Video

I am pleased to announce our second exhibition as a group with my German colleagues Chris Kircher, Claudia Grom and Katja v. Ruville. The artist is not present opens this Friday, July 10 at Galerie Uhn and continues to August 29.

The title plays with the idea that presence does not have to be physical. Two of us are currently not or are no longer living in the Frankfurt area. We have remained committed to a shared vision and professional practice of our work as presented in our first exhibition to be continued. Since then, we have continued to collaborate and support one another virtually through regular Skype meetings, bi-annual retreats and group exhibitions.

Katja v. Ruville, 2015,  vergraben | buried , porcelain, black rice, mung beans, rice noodles, pigment,    ∅   13cm, 18 cm, 22 cm | 21 x 21 cm

Katja v. Ruville, 2015, vergraben | buried, porcelain, black rice, mung beans, rice noodles, pigment,  13cm, 18 cm, 22 cm | 21 x 21 cm

Over the past year, we have each had our own personal experience of what “not being present” means, reflected in the work. Whether it is relocating to a different country, traveling the world with a long term art project, retreating into one’s inner world, or working in other fields – each development has stretched, as well as enriched the group's bond.

Chris Kircher, 2014,  M    ä  dchenkopf | girls head,    scrap metal, welded

Chris Kircher, 2014, Mädchenkopf | girls head, scrap metal, welded

Exhibited work includes scrap metal sculpture by Chris Kircher, porcelain and light objects by Katja v. Ruville, an installation combined with live performance art from Asia by Claudia Grom, and some of my New Country work.

Kelly O  ’  Brien, 2015,  You    ’  re New Around Here, Aren  ’  t You?   ,   overpainted photograph on canvas

Kelly OBrien, 2015, Youre New Around Here, Arent You?, overpainted photograph on canvas

The artists will be present. If you are in the Frankfurt area, I hope to see you there!

the artist is not present
July 10 through August 29, 2015
Opening: July 10, 7:00 pm
Galerie Uhn
Hauptstrasse 34
61462 Königstein

Exhibition: Joint Venture+ at Candita Clayton Gallery

The little portfolio that could is still going! Our next stop for the traveling exhibition of framed prints from the collection is Candita Clayton Gallery in Pawtucket, Rhode Island.

Most, if not all, of the boxed portfolio sets have been sold. Thirty-one individual framed prints are still available (one from each artist), and some artists are showing additional work as well.

Exhibition and Opening Reception for "She is Herself"

Exhibition and Opening Reception for "She is Herself"

The power of art to heal! Am delighted that my work will hang in a new women's medical practice in Bad Soden, Germany. Opening reception: November 22 @3pm. I'll be there - please join me!

exhibition: "to be continued | Fortsetzung folgt"

One of the best things about our time living in Germany has been the friends I've made who also happen to be artists. It's with great pleasure that I invite you to join me and three such friends to our first (and we hope, of many) small group exhibition, to be continued | Fortsetzung folgt.

The exhibition at grassgrün opens on Friday, October 24 at 19:00, and runs through Sunday, October 26. We are also taking appointments outside of the gallery hours below - if you can't make it over the weekend, just contact me and let's see what we can work out.

If you can stop by for a visit, I'd love to share the work with you personally. It will also be a chance to say our goodbyes...Ian has already relocated to our new home in England, and movers arrive shortly after this event to move our household, Astro, and me to join him.

Exhibition details and opening hours, below. I hope to see you on the 24th or sometime during the weekend!


Exhibition details:

to be continued | Fortsetzung folgt   October 24 – 26, 2014 | Vernissage: Friday, 24 October at 19:00 | grassgrün, Vogelsbergstrasse 38, 60316 Frankfurt am Main | Tel: 0179/4 57 93 96 | Opening hours: 12:00 to 20:00 Uhr und nach Vereinbarung

studio update: late summer 2014

Kelly O'Brien,  Home is Where You Are  (detail). Acrylic on paper on canvas. 2014

Kelly O'Brien, Home is Where You Are (detail). Acrylic on paper on canvas. 2014

Here in chilly gray Frankfurt, change is in the air already. Where did summer go? This is our fourth one in Germany, and I'm still not used to August days in the 60s and nights that dip into the 40s.

Which means I've been in the studio, making new work! My current focus is on acrylic painting, with some mixed media sculpture to keep things interesting. It feels like acrylics are opening up a whole new level of freedom. I've only scratched the surface and am eager to see where this goes.

Kelly O'Brien,  You Can't Run From Yourself . Acrylic on paper on canvas. 2014

Kelly O'Brien, You Can't Run From Yourself. Acrylic on paper on canvas. 2014

If you're in the Frankfurt area this autumn, you can see the new work in two upcoming exhibitions in October and November. Stateside, I am delighted to have mixed media prints included in The Joint Portfolio Project, with exhibitions at the Providence Art Club and Torpedo Factory in September and November. More on each of these as dates draw nearer.

Kelly O'Brien,  Inside Job . Acrylic on paper on canvas. 2014

Kelly O'Brien, Inside Job. Acrylic on paper on canvas. 2014

Speaking of change, the theme I'm exploring is Geographic Cure. My husband and I are moving to England this fall, so the topic has been on my mind. As much as I love living in Germany and will miss the friends I've made here, I look forward to what lies ahead. I'm learning that with a little conscious effort, you can stay connected and involved, wherever you live.

Upcoming exhibitions:

September 7 - October 3, 2014: The Joint Portfolio Project Exhibition, Moitié Gallery, Providence Art Club, Providence, RI

October 24 - 26, 2014: To Be Continued | Fortsetzung folgt, grassgrün, Frankfurt, Germany

November 1 - December 31, 2014: The Joint Portfolio Project Exhibition, Printmakers Inc, Torpedo Factory, Alexandria, VA

November 2014 - January 2015: She is Herself, Frauenartztpraxis Dr. Med. Seelig, Bad Soden, Germany