O’Brien is best known for his ceramic sculptures. However, he begins making his sculptures by drawing. The colorful geometric patterns in his drawings are made through a process similar to Surrealist automatic writing techniques and evoke various U.S. visual cultures such as those related to psychedelia, op art, abstract expressionist painting, and architecture. The playful ceramic works, which are adorned with bright glazes, refer to a broad range of cultural elements such as ancient artifacts and face jugs, which were produced in the American South prior to the Civil War. O’Brien’s works incorporate historically varied cultural elements, such as ethnography, traditional crafts, poetry, pop and psychedelic cultures, and gay minimalism.
O’Brien is shockingly well-versed in many traditional media (paper, clay, wood, fabric, and metal), and his works include sculptures, drawings, paintings, collage, video, and tapestries. Ignoring self-imposed constraints, he utilizes a plethora of materials and ideas by cutting apart and combining them through an intuitive and improvisational process that generates new ideas while simultaneously refuting existing modes of academic and logical categorization. As O’Brien has explained, he is “interested in the point where ugliness and failure can become attractive.” His works are filled with a strength that transcends all existing framework
2014, SOLO EXHIBITION