Alwyn O'Brien: "Essay in Objects"

March 22, 2012—April 28, 2012 | Reception Thursday March 22nd, 6-8PM

James Harris Gallery is pleased to present our second solo exhibition by Canadian artist Alwyn O’Brien. The artist creates both slip cast and hand built vessel shaped sculptures. The show is a direct response to the artist’s passionate work in a nursing home where personal objects act as triggers and links to the past. The works manifest a hybrid identity as deconstructed period pieces, recalling the exaggerated motion and biomorphic animation of the highly decorative baroque. For O’Brien, “The surface has become the object rather than the decoration. It has become free of the vessel’s three-dimensional form, and is able to claim its own space.” Uninhibited by the functional surface restrictions of a vessel, O’Brien’s hand-rolled coils and fragile shavings of porcelain activate the overall shape and act like moving tendrils creating the appearance of motion, destruction, and despair. The slip cast pieces are a counter balance to the more delicate works in that weight and volume are more considered.

Download the press release

"Without Qualities" 2012
"Wean" Off" 2012
“Hold My Hand and We’ll Swab the Decks One Last Time” 2012
“She Said One Day the Poetry Left Her” 2012
"Destroying Angel" 2012
“Progress” 2012

Alwyn O'Brien

With an extensive knowledge of the history of decorative artists and a passion for the baroque, O’Brien’s objects dissect the definition of the vessel through her use of lacey hand rolled coils used in a deliberate yet chaotic way to construct volume and shape. Pinching, rolling and fingerprints show signs of the hand and connect the material to body.

Alwyn O’Brien’s ceramic practice has taken her across Canada, studying at Capilano College, in Vancouver, Sheridan College of Ontario, the Nova Scotia School of Art and Design, and Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design. She received her MFA in 2010 from the University of Washington in Seattle and her BFA from Emily Carr Institute. Her work is featured in the collections of the Seattle Art Museum, Boise Art Museum, the Surrey Art Gallery, and the Mackenzie Art Gallery.