Studio Sixty Six

TALKING WITH OTTAWA ARTIST ERYN O’NEILL I RECENTLY HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO ASK OTTAWA ARTIST ERYN O'NEILL (PRESENTLY EXHIBITING...

Posted on May 25, 2015

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

About

Studio Sixty Six is a contemporary art gallery devoted to showcasing unique, thought-provoking Canadian art located at 858 Bank Street, Suite 101, in the Glebe. This is our official blog, where we share what's happening at the gallery, as well as in the broader fine art and design communities of Ottawa.

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