PaperCity Magazine

May 2014 - Houston

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B Y S T E V E N H E M P E L . P R O D U C E D B Y M I C H E L L E AV I Ñ A . P H OTO G R A P H Y J A C K T H O M P S O N . H A I R A N D M A K E U P A N G E L I N A N ATA . LIGHT S an Antonio artist Kelly O'Connor — known for her vivid collages, works on paper and immersive installations that transport viewers to a different time and place — digs into memory, fantasy, fiction and the appropriation of idealized American scenery, often including iconic imagery of the '50s and '60s. As exhibitions officer of the Linda Pace Foundation and represented by David Shelton Gallery, with exhibitions at the McNay Museum of Art in San Antonio, Women and Their Work in Austin and the Galveston Arts Center, and inclusion in the Texas Biennial, O'Connor has seduced us all. Steven Hempel gets pulled in. On life as an artist — the beginning. I grew up in a traditional suburban American home. I was not introduced to fine art until late in high school when a really good high school art teacher saw something special in me and was very encouraging. Was there a moment when it became clear what your work would focus on? The concepts or themes in my work started to take shape while I was studying at University of Texas Austin. I began investigating ideas of façade and artificial landscapes specific to American culture. I was awarded a research grant (while taking installation class with Margo Sawyer) that allowed me to travel to Disney World and take hundreds of pictures and try to discover a deeper truth to this fabricated environment. A brief roadmap of your trajectory. After graduating from UT Austin, I lived in Marfa and completed an internship at the Chinati Foundation. I extended my stay at Chinati and was able to get hands-on experience working with their conservator. Following Marfa, I moved back to my home town of San Antonio and began an internship at Artpace. From there, I moved to the Linda Pace Foundation, where I worked as assistant to Linda Pace. The meaning of vivid patterns and color. I use pattern to seduce the viewer, to pull you in. They are often swirling and have a hypnotic feel. With color, I like to use a Technicolor palette; it takes me back to a seemingly minimal time, void of digital media. A lot of my processes are low-tech and repetitive. I want my work to put the viewer in a trance and make them forget, for just a moment, about all their real-life problems and obligations. Why do you create these types of contemplative environments? They are my idea of paradise. I view them as being almost meditative. If I could go on vacation anywhere, it would be either Disneyland or Yellowstone … in 1955. On the creative community in San Antonio. If you know where to go, San Antonio can be a magical place. We have beautiful food, cutting-edge contemporary art, and a long and interesting history. The arts community is very close to the city's center. Many artists live, work and play all within 10 miles of downtown. In the living room, the large hanging sculpture is by Claire Little, assembled from deer armature and horns, with joint compound formed into handmade roses. An antique drafting desk with painted base serves as the kitchen island. The red head is Sam Giesey's Carrie, 2010. RAYS OF Kelly O'Connor and her work Valley of the Dolls, Nancey Chapman earrings from Sloan/Hall, San Antonio.

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