Kelly O’Neill

My work is about body, memory, relationship, materiality, identity and border. Within these broad terms I look to subtleties, the poetic, in an effort to uncover understanding.  Working with assemblage and text, video and projection and incorporating traditional textile methods with unconventional materials I create objects and experiences that explore the fluidity and impermeability of embodied experience. I am intrigued by the moment where transformation occurs, when one thing becomes another. My work excavates this moment, exploring its rich and multi layered texture to discover what the moment has to offer. I work with objects and materials that relate to the materiality of our physical beings. I often begin from a personal experience, and search for an image, substance, experience or object that can move beyond the personal to the collective. I want to create work that dissolves the border between viewer and object and to place the viewer within the experience of the moment.  In the slowed-down space of the moment I aim to make accessible not only the presence of the artwork but also the viewers’ felt presence as they enter their own materiality.

In my recent work, I turned to the materiality of water to investigate how intimacy acts on the border between oneself and another, oneself and the world. Water, a subtle reference to the body, holds qualities that feed my exploration–its instability, movement, surface tension, its substantial and insubstantial elements, its solvency and its ability to hold and to reflect light.  This engagement with water has made me curious about the psychological, physiological and spiritual power of water.  Always interested in engaging the viewer in a bodily way, I have begun to consider how the water within the body responds to the water outside the body.  Semantically, I find it interesting that we refer to expanses of water as “bodies of water” and hope through video, sound and expressive movement to discover the subtle power of the relationship between body and water. I am also interested in exploring the impact of pollution and other impositions humans put upon water and how these impositions might affect our relationship/bodily response.  Through these explorations I hope to shift ideas from water as resource towards an understanding of a personal, reciprocal relationship.


Kelly O’Neill is an installation, mixed media and textile artist who lives in Peterborough, ON.  She holds a BA in Philosophy and English Literature and was a social worker before working as a full-time mother to four children. Having had an art practice throughout her life, O’Neill returned to school four years ago and completed her BFA in the Sculpture and Installation Program at OCADU, Toronto, ON. O’Neill’s work has been shown in galleries throughout Canada including Art Mur, Montreal; J.B. Arid Gallery, Toronto; Pendulum Gallery, Vancouver; WKP Kennedy Gallery, North Bay and The Art Gallery of Peterborough.







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