Curated by Joey Yates


January 21–April 8, 2017


KMAC presents acclaimed Chicago artist William J. O’Brien in a solo exhibition that features ceramic and steel sculptures, textiles, drawing and painting. An appreciation for manual labor and the handmade is translated through a dexterous manipulation of multiple materials and forms, revealing a primary tenet of craft itself, the reversal of our de-valued relationship with the physical world. The work explores relationships between color, form, pattern and texture, balancing tensions between chaos and control, oscillating between abstraction and figuration. O’Brien’s varied practice references both Modernist masters and 20th century autodidacts. His democratization of the creativity of diverse artists conveys a personal mission to equalize and represent marginalized methods for communication, exposing new ideas through experimentations with craft based materials and traditions, and thereby expanding the vocabulary of our shared visual language.


William J. O’Brien received his BA in Studio Art from Loyola University in Chicago, and his MFA in Fiber and Material Studies from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Since 2007 he has had several solo exhibitions at the Shane Campbell Gallery in Chicago and The Marianne Boesky Gallery in New York where his most recent body of work featuring new sculptures in bronze will be on view in a show titled The Protectors from January 5 – February 4, 2017. In 2014 he had his first major survey exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, curated by Naomi Beckwith. His work is included in several private and public collections including the Cleveland Clinic, Ohio; Perez Art Museum Miami, Florida; The Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; The Hara Museum of Art, Japan; and the Art Institute of Chicago, amongst others. He his currently an Assistant Professor in Ceramics at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.