mixed media

New Work: Object (Im)permanence

Kelly M. O'Brien,  Object (Im)permanence No. 2  (front). Machine sewing over incised digital photographs on paper. 12 x 16.5 inches. ©2016.

Kelly M. O'Brien, Object (Im)permanence No. 2 (front). Machine sewing over incised digital photographs on paper. 12 x 16.5 inches. ©2016.

Over the past year, I've spent a lot of time commuting to the United States from my home in England for family reasons. Some of the trips have been short, others up to six weeks at a time. It's been an unexpected opportunity to spend precious time with loved ones.

A new series of work, Object (Im)permanence, is emerging as a reflection of this time. It's deeply personal work, yet explores some universal ideas. Object permanence is the understanding that objects continue to exist even when they cannot be observed. It stems from early childhood developmental psychology to describe the stage when a child understands that objects exist and events occur in the world independently of one's own actions.

Kelly M. O'Brien,  Object (Im)permanence No. 1  (front). Machine sewing over incised digital photographs on paper. 12 x 16.5 inches. ©2016.

Kelly M. O'Brien, Object (Im)permanence No. 1 (front). Machine sewing over incised digital photographs on paper. 12 x 16.5 inches. ©2016.

The longer I live at a distance from people I care deeply about, the more I have learned to deploy object permanence with them. While these relationships cannot be neglected – on the contrary, they must be carefully tended – they are reinforced by a fundamental belief that the ties can be relied upon to sustain the connection. Likewise, in our respective absences, lives unfold without our presence.

Kelly M. O'Brien,  Object (Im)permanence No. 3  (front). Machine sewing over incised digital photographs on paper. 12 x 16.5 inches. ©2016.

Kelly M. O'Brien, Object (Im)permanence No. 3 (front). Machine sewing over incised digital photographs on paper. 12 x 16.5 inches. ©2016.

The work consists of disparate images, incised, layered and machine-stitched over and into. Sewing over the blended photographs and other ephemera, I seek a form of seamless integration and permanence. It is an act of mending together, of tacking the past to the present and the near to the far away. As a technique, it slows me down so that I can feel at home with the images, what they represent, and the life I choose here and now.

Kelly M. O'Brien,  Object (Im)permanence No. 3  (reverse). Machine sewing over incised digital photographs on paper. 12 x 16.5 inches. ©2016.

Kelly M. O'Brien, Object (Im)permanence No. 3 (reverse). Machine sewing over incised digital photographs on paper. 12 x 16.5 inches. ©2016.

The reverse sides of the pieces offer another perspective, more abstract and unpredictable in how lines and images intersect. The backs of these pieces were an unintentional happy accident. They seem an apt metaphor for how life unfolds, full of surprises and unforeseen outcomes. 

As this series evolves, I'll share more images here.

hard tryer at Galerie Uhn: The Path Itself Changed Her

"The Path Itself Changed Her" by Kelly O'Brien (2014). Mixed media on paper, 70 x 50 cm.

"The Path Itself Changed Her" by Kelly O'Brien (2014). Mixed media on paper, 70 x 50 cm.

There's a story behind many of the pieces that I make. During the month of February while new work for my solo exhibition hangs at Galerie Uhn, I'm sharing brief backstories in a series of blog posts.

The Path Itself Changed Her is a mixed media print, part of the Postcards from the Edge: Taunus series.

Crossing paths with chickens, cows, sheep and horses is an everyday experience living in the Taunus. We have what we call the “chicken loop” as one of the routes we take with our dog Astro.

He used to get so excited when we encountered various farm animals along the way. Now he takes them in stride.

Hard Tryer at Galerie Uhn
January 31 – March 15, 2014

Seilerbahnweg 1, 61462 Königstein
Tel: 06174-221750

Opening hours: 

Di. + Do. 14.00 – 18.00 Uhr, Mi. + Fr. + Sa. 10.00 – 13.00 Uhr und nach Vereinbarung

hard tryer at Galerie Uhn: You Lead, I'll Follow

"You Lead, I'll Follow" by Kelly O'Brien (2014). Mixed media on paper, 70 x 50 cm.

There's a story behind many of the pieces that I make. During the month of February while new work for my solo exhibition hangs at Galerie Uhn, I'm sharing brief backstories in a series of blog posts.

You Lead, I'll Follow is a mixed media print, part of the Postcards from the Edge: Taunus series. Okay, full disclosure: this image was shot in Obergurgl, Austria, nowhere near the Taunus. Nonetheless, it's included in this series for now.

When we left the US to move overseas, it was an opportunity for me to focus full time on art. It also meant that I was leaving a good career in government consulting. In one fell swoop, my identity shifted from economic equal to financially dependent hausfrau. The adjustment was not pretty.

I'm learning that you've got to take turns in relationships. Sometimes you lead, other times you follow. And money isn't the only way to share responsibility and power. Living abroad has been a great teacher in this regard.

Hard Tryer at Galerie Uhn
January 31 – March 15, 2014

Seilerbahnweg 1, 61462 Königstein
Tel: 06174-221750

Opening hours: 

Di. + Do. 14.00 – 18.00 Uhr, Mi. + Fr. + Sa. 10.00 – 13.00 Uhr und nach Vereinbarung

hard tryer at Galerie Uhn: She Decides to Shine

"She Decides to Shine" by Kelly O'Brien (2014). Mixed media print on paper, 50 x 70 cm.

There's a story behind many of the pieces that I make. During the month of February while new work for my solo exhibition hangs at Galerie Uhn, I'm sharing brief backstories in a series of blog posts.

She Decides to Shine is a mixed media print, part of the Postcards from the Edge: Taunus series.

Our local forest is scattered with beautiful mushrooms and fungi. Germany has some 5,000 mushroom species, including many that are considered delicacies.

We have not, however, been brave enough to collect and consume them – something the locals enthusiastically do from early September to mid-October. Apparently, there's even a Mushroom Mafia.

This lovely specimen was literally glowing, not to be missed.

Hard Tryer at Galerie Uhn
January 31 – February 28, 2014

Seilerbahnweg 1, 61462 Königstein
Tel: 06174-221750

Opening hours: 

Di. + Do. 14.00 – 18.00 Uhr, Mi. + Fr. + Sa. 10.00 – 13.00 Uhr und nach Vereinbarung

hard tryer at Galerie Uhn: Begin Anywhere

"Begin Anywhere" by Kelly O'Brien (2014). Mixed media on paper, 50 x 70 cm.

There's a story behind many of the pieces that I make. During the month of February while new work for my solo exhibition hangs at Galerie Uhn, I'm sharing brief backstories in a series of blog posts.

Begin Anywhere is a mixed media print, part of the Postcards from the Edge: Taunus series.

The Taunus is laced with hiking trails, stacks of timbered logs, and an occasional mid-hike restaurant or biergarten. Foul weather is no excuse, with the sun shining on average only 36% of the time. Rain, occasional shine, wind, snow – everyone is out in droves walking through fields and forest.

Choices abound for a pleasant outing. This ode to John Cage is a mantra for when I don't know where to start – in or out of the woods.

Hard Tryer at Galerie Uhn
January 31 – February 28, 2014

Seilerbahnweg 1, 61462 Königstein
Tel: 06174-221750

Opening hours: 

Di. + Do. 14.00 – 18.00 Uhr, Mi. + Fr. + Sa. 10.00 – 13.00 Uhr und nach Vereinbarung

hard tryer at Galerie Uhn: Leave Breadcrumbs

There's a story behind many of the pieces that I make. During the month of February while new work for my solo exhibition hangs at Galerie Uhn, I'm sharing brief backstories in a series of blog posts.

Leave Breadcrumbs is a mixed media print, part of the Postcards from the Edge: Taunus series.

In a fairytale forest we hiked in fog so thick, we could barely see the trail in front of us. There's a lot of natural beauty here. I used to think that the illustrations in children's books were imaginary. But now I know that they're inspired by real-life scenery in Germany.

We live about an hour from Marburg, where the Brothers Grimm studied. Art imitates life that imitates art in this neck of the woods.

Hard Tryer at Galerie Uhn
January 31 – February 28, 2014

Seilerbahnweg 1, 61462 Königstein
Tel: 06174-221750

Opening hours: 

Di. + Do. 14.00 – 18.00 Uhr, Mi. + Fr. + Sa. 10.00 – 13.00 Uhr und nach Vereinbarung

hard tryer at Galerie Uhn: Schnell, Like a Bunny!

"Schnell Like a Bunny!" by Kelly O'Brien (2014). Mixed media on paper, 50 x 70 cm.

There's a story behind many of the pieces that I make. During the month of February while new work for my solo exhibition hangs at Galerie Uhn, I'm sharing brief backstories in a series of blog posts.

Schnell Like a Bunny! is a mixed media print, part of the Postcards from the Edge: Taunus series.

The grocery check-out line in Germany is like a competitive sport. There's a certain unspoken pressure to quickly unload your cart, bag your groceries, pay and get out of the way. Like these chocolate bunnies, you've got to be quick.

Unless, of course, you're paying in cash and want to dig out exact change. Then you can take as much time as you need.

Hard Tryer at Galerie Uhn
January 31 – February 28, 2014

Seilerbahnweg 1, 61462 Königstein
Tel: 06174-221750

Opening hours: 

Di. + Do. 14.00 – 18.00 Uhr, Mi. + Fr. + Sa. 10.00 – 13.00 Uhr und nach Vereinbarung

hard tryer at Galerie Uhn: They Decide to Stay for Awhile

"They Decide to Stay for Awhile" by Kelly O'Brien (2014). Mixed media print on paper, 50 x 70 cm.

There's a story behind many of the pieces that I make. During the month of February while new work for my solo exhibition hangs at Galerie Uhn, I'm sharing brief backstories in a series of blog posts.

They Decide to Stay is a mixed media print, part of the Postcards from the Edge: Taunus series.

We have our very own 12th century castle ruin here in Königstein. Host to the annual Bergfest, concerts and fireworks, it sees a lot of action. But most of the time, it's a quiet spot to hike up to for a nice view.

Living on temporary overseas assignment means one's life can be uprooted at any time, with little notice. When I remember that home is where the heart is, I don't mind so much.

Hard Tryer at Galerie Uhn
January 31 – February 28, 2014

Seilerbahnweg 1, 61462 Königstein
Tel: 06174-221750

Opening hours: 

Di. + Do. 14.00 – 18.00 Uhr, Mi. + Fr. + Sa. 10.00 – 13.00 Uhr und nach Vereinbarung

short stories from the taunus

"Leave Breadcrumbs" by Kelly O'Brien (2014). Mixed media print on paper, 70 x 50 cm.

There's a story behind many of the pieces that I make. During the month of February while new work for my solo exhibition hangs at Galerie Uhn, I'll be sharing brief backstories about the work in a series of blog posts.

The stories are all from a series of mixed media prints, Postcards from the Taunus. The Taunus is the region where I live, just outside of Frankfurt.

The first set of Postcards were from Scotland. I was on an artist retreat to loosen up my work, take risks, and experiment with new techniques.

Postcard series made during Women's Studio Workshop Printing on the Edge retreat at Rua Reidh Lighthouse in northwestern Scotland. Trace monoprint, chine colle and monoprint on color photograph.

Postcard series made during Women's Studio Workshop Printing on the Edge retreat at Rua Reidh Lighthouse in northwestern Scotland. Trace monoprint, chine colle and monoprint on color photograph.

Printmaking can be full of surprises, perfect for these goals. Thus, the Postcards were born, and seem to be taking on a life of their own. They're becoming a way to document not only where I travel, but also particular moments, relationships, and identity.

Hard Tryer at Galerie Uhn
January 31 – February 28, 2014

Seilerbahnweg 1, 61462 Königstein
Tel: 06174-221750

Opening hours: 

Di. + Do. 14.00 – 18.00 Uhr, Mi. + Fr. + Sa. 10.00 – 13.00 Uhr und nach Vereinbarung

Hard Tryer at Galerie Uhn opens tonight!

"Small World" by Kelly O'Brien (2014). Mixed media print on paper, 50 x 70 cm.

My Hard Tryer solo exhibition at Galerie Uhn opens this evening at 19:00. If you can stop by for a visit, I'd love to share the work with you personally. The exhibition runs through the end of February.

If you have a small group of friends and would like to have a private tour, please let me or gallery owner Jimin Leyrer know.

There will be an exhibition catalog available for purchase, or as a gift when original art is purchased.

Throughout the month of February I'll be sharing short background stories about some of the work in the exhibition, including Postcards from the Edge: Taunus, through regular blog posts.

Gallery Uhn details and opening hours, below. I hope to see you on Friday!

"Hard Tryer" (detail). Watercolor, coffee, pencil on paper, 80 x 60 cm.

Exhibition details:

Hard Tryer at Galerie Uhn
January 31 – February 28, 2014
Vernissage: Friday, 31 January at 19:00

Seilerbahnweg 1, 61462 Königstein
Tel: 06174-221750

Opening hours: Di. + Do. 14.00 – 18.00 Uhr, Mi. + Fr. + Sa. 10.00 – 13.00 Uhr und nach Vereinbarung

New Year's studio update

Happy New Year from the studio! I'll be starting 2014 off with my first solo exhibition in Germany. It will be at Galerie Uhn from January 31 to February 28, right here in Königstein. I'm thrilled to have this opportunity and am hard at work preparing for the show.

"Hard Tryer" (detail), watercolor, coffee and pencil on paper, 80 x 60 cm.

"Hard Tryer" (detail), watercolor, coffee and pencil on paper, 80 x 60 cm.

The exhibition will be centered around my Hard Tryer body of work, including brand new large-format watercolors and mixed media Postcards from the Edge: TaunusThe opening reception is Friday, January 31 at 7:00 pm.

"Small World" (2014). Mixed media print on paper, 50 x 70 cm.

"Small World" (2014). Mixed media print on paper, 50 x 70 cm.

Work has already begun to sell, so if you're interested in a piece, don't miss out! You're welcome to stop by my studio for a preview (just call or email ahead and chances are, I'll be here).

Local friends, I hope to see you at the opening! If you'd like a private tour of the work once the show is open, please let me know. I'd love to do so.

In the meantime, check out an arts-centered blog by The Torpedo Factory that featured my response to the question: "Should I major in art or go to art school?" It's a great blog for diving deeper into the studio life and work of the artists at one of the largest juried art centers in the United States.

Wishing you and yours a prosperous and happy 2014!

Exhibition details:

Hard Tryer, solo exhibition. Galerie UHN, Königstein, Germany. January 31 – February 28, 2014. Opening reception: Friday, 31 January at 19:00 Seilerbahnweg 1, 61462 Königstein-im-Taunus

open studios at the Staedelschule

I'm off to install new work that's been emerging from my semester at the Städelschule night school. We're hosting Open Studios this week and next for all students, including mixed media sculpture, painting and drawing.

If you're looking for something different to do in Frankfurt, studios will be open to the public on Friday, July 12 at 6 - 9 pm.

They're housed in an interesting old warehouse down near the docks at Daimlerstrasse 32. Worth the trip just to see the space, but come for the art!

Here's a nice review of last semester's exhibition. It's in German, but Google Translate is helpful-ish to get the main points.