What do the Emerald City of Oz and the city of Odessa, Texas have in common? For Kelly O’Connor, Oz represents a city of dreams and a means back to reality, while Odessa represents dreams bound by harsh realities.
In Kelly O’Connor’s site-specific installation in the upper galleries of the 1877 jail building, the artist attempts to reveal the similarities and polarities of the two cities and their inhabitants—one fantasy and one real—to weave a non-linear narrative. A visual excess of color, symbolic references, seemingly disparate objects, and perfume oil will become the sensory vehicles for viewers as they explore themes of authenticity, disillusionment, excess, and escapism. References to Judy Garland and O’Connor’s grandmother (both named Dorothy), “institutional” green used in jails and asylums, and other powerful imagery will await viewers in this complex and thought provoking installation.
For almost a decade, San Antonio artist O’Connor has appropriated images from paper media produced during the 1950s and 1960s in the creation of her collages and sculptures. Her work is less about nostalgia than understanding how myth and reality shape our understanding of the world.
Kelly O’Connor, Dorothy II (Portrait of the artist's grandmother Dorothy) (detail), 2017, digitally printed image and mixed media collage, 30 X 22 in. Courtesy of the artist and David Shelton Gallery. Photo credit Ansen Seale.
The 2017 Cell Series is sponsored in part by Susie and Joe Clack, Amy and Patrick Kelly, McGinnis Family Fund of Communities Foundation of Texas, and Kathy Webster in Memory of Charles H. Webster.