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Kelly O'Brien

About the artist

Kelly O’Brien is an American mixed media artist who lives and works near Bath, England. Kelly is currently pursuing a Master of Fine Art at Bath Spa University. Throughout two international moves, Kelly has maintained a disciplined pursuit of her art education, all the while building a steady record of exhibitions and collectors, including work placed in over twenty public collections to date. She creates large-scale bespoke versions of her Playing With Fire series for projects around the world including Ritz-Carlton, Four Seasons, Kimpton Hotels, Hilton Hotels, Marriott Hotels, Taj Hotels, Norwegian Cruise Lines, and more.

Kelly works primarily with paper, attracted to its paradoxical qualities of ephemeral strength. Even when manipulated in seemingly destructive ways - scoring, burning, sewing into, tearing, repairing - what emerges is often more interesting and beautiful than the original form. She is interested in how her materials can transform and reinvent themselves into something new, not unlike an adult who continues to learn and grow – coming full circle in her work from the earlier career.

Playing With Fire is an ongoing series of burned paper sculptural objects. The paper has been incised, torn, punched, and burned with touches of gold leaf added. The paper is arranged in floating layers, creating an illusion of a landscape. Through this work, Kelly explores how to let go of expectations and outcomes. Over time, she has learned how to “control” the materials, as well as to appreciate the power of surprise. When she lets the flame burn as it will, there is a point before total destruction when beauty happens. This element of surprise sparks creativity.