12475 - 20170409 - KMAC presents works by acclaimed Chicago artist William J. O'Brien - Louisville, KY - 21.01.2017-09.04.2017

Untitled, 2015. Felt on felt. 72x72 inches. Courtesy of the artist.
KMAC Museum presents a new exhibition, William J. O'Brien | Oscillates Wildly, curated by Joey Yates, on view January 21-April 9,2017. This is KMAC's first solo exhibition following a full renovation completed in July 2016. KMAC will host an artist talk during which O'Brien will speak about his career and process on Saturday, January 21 at 3:30pm. 
William J. O'Brien shifts effortlessly from creating ceramic and steel sculptures to working with textiles, drawing, and painting. This dynamism is evident in the nearly 90 works featured in the exhibition, which fill the second floor gallery of the museum. Central to his varied practice, and equally to the province of craft itself, is a dexterous manipulation of multiple materials and forms venerating handmade labor and other meaningful connections with the physical world.

"In our modern lexicon of creative activity, O'Brien is commonly considered a maker, someone who is engaged in a thoughtful, physically rigorous, and oftentimes improvisational approach to materiality and process," said KMAC Curator Joey Yates. "In this effort, William J. O'Brien offers a prime example of the role craft plays in the critical dialogue about contemporary art, which the KMAC exhibition program explores."

Oscillating between two-dimensional surfaces to three-dimensional structures, his work explores varying relationships between color, form, pattern and texture, balancing tensions amid abstraction and figuration, chaos and control, absurdity and logic.

Drawing inspiration from an array of historical art movements, O'Brien creates work that blends conventional craft techniques with various methods of spontaneous mark making. Ignoring the hierarchies that were previously meant to segregate artistic practice, O'Brien obscures the distinctions between the skilled and amateur artist. Our conceptions of genre and history are collapsed into an idiosyncratic process where we see O'Brien's blurring the modern narratives of Dada, Surrealism, Abstract Expressionism and the decorative arts, as well as more vernacular and intuitive forms of art like folk art of the American South and Art Brut.

KMAC donors and members are invited to preview the exhibition on Friday, January 20 from 6-8pm. Prior to the artist talk on Saturday, January 21 at 3:30pm, there will be an O'Brien inspired Family Fun Day from 11am-3pm, offering free family art making activities for all ages. Event details and more information can be found at KMACmuseum.org.

William J. O'Brien | Oscillates Wildly is generously supported by Brown Forman, Republic Bank, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Morgan Stanley, Mary and Ted Nixon, and Stephen Reily and Emily Bingham.

William J. O'Brien received his BA in Studio Art from Loyola University in Chicago, and his MFA in Fiber and Material Studies from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Since 2007 he has had several solo exhibitions at the Shane Campbell Gallery in Chicago and The Marianne Boesky Gallery in New York where his most recent body of work featuring new sculptures in bronze will be on view in a show titled The Protectors from January 5 - February 4, 2017. In 2014 he had his first major survey exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, curated by Naomi Beckwith. His work is included in several private and public collections including the Cleveland Clinic, Ohio; Perez Art Museum Miami, Florida; The Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; The Hara Museum of Art, Japan; and the Art Institute of Chicago, amongst others. He is currently an Assistant Professor in Ceramics at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.