Kelly M. O'Brien, installation view, Mending | Tending © 2017 Image: Anna Meuer
Mending | Tending are abstract objects of torn paper fragments that are sewn together with thread. Some of the objects feature color edges, others are taped and then sewn. Some are machine-stitched, others by hand.
I began making these objects after months of commuting back and forth from the UK to the US to help attend to my ailing father. As his illness progressed and the trips mounted, I sought solace in the act of repeatedly tearing and mending the paper fragments. As a close friend observed: “We mend what's been torn, and tend what we mourn.”
As the trips and my father's illness intensified, the work shifted to reflect not so much a desperation to hold everything together, but rather a gentler presence of being with whatever was, wherever I was. The shift from tighter, controlled, sometimes frenzied machine stitching to a looser, lighter hand-sewn approach reflects this process.