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MCA Talk
William J. O’Brien

Sat, Jan 25, 2014, 3–4:30 pm

To celebrate the opening of his MCA exhibition, William J. O’Brien and Marilyn and Larry Fields Curator Naomi Beckwith engage in a conversation about the works on view.


 About the Artist

William J. O’Brien’s multi-disciplinary practice—painting, sculpture, drawing, and installation—grows out of a personal, intuitive process. His works address the tension between order and chaos, weaving repetition and mantra into a fresh minimalistic practice. Gesture is the central motivation of his artistic operation—material usage ranging from clean to messy—alluding to an inherent physicality. Such physicality yields a wide range of media, including stitched felt, loosely sculpted ceramic forms, powder coated steel totems, and colorful pencil drawings. The works are autonomous in nature, abstracted shapes and freely-rendered forms, reconfigurations of a minimalist practice.

O’Brien was born in 1975 in Eastlake, Ohio. He graduated from Loyola University Chicago in 1997 with a BA in Studio Art, continuing his education at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where he received his MFA in Fiber and Material Studies in 2005. The artist’s work is included in the permanent collections of the Cleveland Clinic, Ohio; Miami Art Museum, Florida; and the Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois. O’Brien has exhibited at the Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago (2011) and the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas (2012).The artist’s first major survey exhibition, curated by Naomi Beckwith, opens in January 2014 at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. A monograph will accompany the exhibition. The artist lives and works in Chicago.