TALKING WITH OTTAWA ARTIST ERYN O’NEILL I RECENTLY HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO ASK OTTAWA ARTIST ERYN O'NEILL (PRESENTLY EXHIBITING...
TALKING WITH OTTAWA ARTIST ERYN O’NEILL
I RECENTLY HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO ASK OTTAWA ARTIST ERYN O'NEILL (PRESENTLY EXHIBITING AT THE OAG) A FEW QUESTIONS ABOUT HER ART PRACTICE AS WELL AS HER TAKE ON BEING A FULL TIME ARTIST IN OTTAWA. HERE IS WHAT SHE TOLD ME.
CC: Tell me a bit about your background and how you decided on art as a career?
EO: I’d always been interested in art and drawing. After working as a technician at the OSA during high school I enrolled in their portfolio program to ready myself to apply to the Nova Scotia College of Art & Design (NSCAD). After I completed a 4 year BFA I returned to Ottawa. Initially I divided my time between working part-time and developing my painting practice. Quickly I found artistic mentors in Ottawa that I could look to as examples of full time professional artists. At this point I decided to devote myself full time to my painting career. That was 5 years ago.
CC: Why did you decide to focus on becoming a full time artist?
EO: I had considered teaching and or art administration, knowing that the road of devoting one’s self to being a full time artist would be a challenging one, but what I know about myself is that I am an extremely focused, determined and driven person; all things required of a professional artist. I’m not afraid of taking risks and failing. I understand that’s all part of growing as an artist.
CC: Why paint?
EO: During my time at NSCAD I explored other mediums, but I always knew drawing and painting were my thing, my visual communication tools. I love the freedom I have with drawing materials and paint to manipulate my chosen subject of often harsh materials such as concrete and steel.
CC: Tell me about your subject matter; urban architecture?
EO: I’ve always been aware of how I navigate within the city I’m in. I find the different architectural elements that make up a city exciting. Like a person, a city is in a constant process of changing shape, developing, breaking down and being recreated or re-built. It’s a visual perspective I’m very tuned into. I’m endlessly interested in exploring the aesthetic of a city, representing and abstracting simple shapes both man-made and organic in an effort to show its unique aspects.
CC: How do you see this new body of work being exhibited at the OAG as different compared to your past series?
EO: In past series I was exploring a wider range of the city where in this work I have narrowed my focus to individual simple elements of our city; pylons, an underpass or an individual crane for instance. Again I’m looking at the temporal nature of aspects of the city’s urban architectural elements but in a more bare bones, abstract fashion, focusing in on simple shapes and textures.
CC: What type of feedback are you getting on the work?
EO: People are telling me they enjoy the fresh energy and contrast of the colors and the narrowed down focus in the compositions, others have said that they feel a certain amount of stress and tension viewing the work because it reminds them of traffic and the chaos of a city. I have to say that I’ve enjoyed the conversations I’ve had while showing the work in this space (OAG), they have been refreshingly intelligent and positive.
CC: What are your plans to navigate your career next?
EO:I am primarily focused on being an Ottawa artist. For me that means staying a free agent and being an integral part of the community. I will continue to show at two main Ottawa art festivals; the Ottawa Art Expo and the The New Art Festival in June. I also show with Orange Gallery (290 City Centre) who are supportive of Artists being involved in other non-commercial ventures. I have a solo show coming up with Orange (Opening October 1st 2015).
I have participated in the Toronto Outdoor Art Festival (torontooutdoorart.org) and this past February I was accepted to The Artist Project in Toronto (theartistproject.com). I can see myself moving my representation a bit more into that city as well but for the most part I am planning on working and being a supportive cultural partner within Ottawa.
Eryn’s solo exhibition “Obdurate I Endurci” at the OAG ART Rental & Sales (http://www.ottawaartgallery.ca/content/art-rental-sales-0) runs until May 30th