John O’Connor

BA, Westfield (Mass.) State College. MFA, MS, Pratt Institute. Attended Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. Recipient of a New York Foundation for the Arts grant in painting and the Pollock-Krasner Foundation grant. Taught at Princeton University, Pratt Institute, and New York University. Recent exhibitions at Pierogi Gallery in Brooklyn, Martin Asbaek Projects in Copenhagen, Fleisher Ollman Gallery in Philadelphia, and The Lab in Dublin (Ireland). His work is included in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, Whitney Museum of American Art, Southern Methodist University, and New Museum of Contemporary Art. SLC 2010–

Undergraduate Courses 2017-2018

Visual and Studio Arts

Painting on Site

Open , Seminar—Fall

This will be a rigorous art course meant for students who are serious about delving deeply into painting and drawing through the spaces around them. Each week, we’ll travel to a different location to paint “on site.” We’ll work in nature (on various locations along the Hudson River), from architecture (in New York City, Yonkers, the Cloisters), and draw in museums (Metropolitan Museum of Art and Museum of Natural History). As we travel to make art, you’ll be rendering from within: How can your paintings express the specific temperature, light, color, and the temporal conditions of changing spaces? Ultimately, your paintings will reflect how you see the world through intense observation. Course preference is given to those who have painting experience. Studio practice will be reinforced through discussion, written work, readings, and slide lectures for context. Visiting artist lectures are mandatory.

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Experimental Drawing

Open , Seminar—Spring

Drawing is a dynamic art form that encourages experimentation and embraces mistakes. It’s a reflection, on paper, of how we think. This will be a highly creative, process-based drawing course that will challenge you to think about the medium in new and transformative ways. We’ll make open-ended, experimental drawings, moving from the representational into the abstract and beyond. Our subjects will include the human figure, space, memory, portraiture, time, text, installation, collage, the imagined, collaboration, color, and humor, among others. Permeating all of this will be our investigation into ways of introducing content into your work: What will your drawings be about? Through varied, in-depth, exploratory projects, you’ll gain a greater understanding of the tools and techniques of drawing and will learn to combine ideas and mediums in inventive, personal, thought-provoking ways. Studio practice will be reinforced through discussion, written work, readings, slides, and museum visits. Visiting artists and studio visits with artists in New York City will be scheduled.

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Our Nine Senses: Advanced Studio

Advanced , Seminar—Year

Open to juniors and seniors with extensive prior visual art experience.

This course is intended for advanced visual-arts students interested in more fully pursuing their own art-making processes. Students making work in painting, drawing, sculpture, video, mixed media, performance, etc. are supported. Students will maintain their own studio spaces and will be expected to work independently and creatively and to challenge themselves and their peers to explore new ways of thinking and making. During the fall semester, students will be given open-ended prompts based on nine human senses (vision, hearing, smell, taste, touch, balance, temperature, proprioception, pain), from which they will be asked to experiment with how they make work and will be encouraged to work across mediums. In the spring semester, students will focus exclusively on their own interests and will be expected to develop a sophisticated, cohesive body of independent work accompanied by an artist’s statement and solo exhibition. We will have regular critiques, readings, image discussions, and trips to artist’s studios; and we will participate intimately with the Visual Arts Lecture Series. This will be an immersive studio course for disciplined art students interested in making art in an interdisciplinary environment.

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Previous Courses

First-Year Studies in Visual Art: Process and Making

Open , FYS—Year

I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand. —Chinese proverb

Ideas in any creative endeavor rarely arrive full blown and/or crystal clear. Similar to the task of repeatedly pushing a large boulder up and then down and then back up a steep hill, creativity, understanding, and clarity come through engagement and from the challenge and the act of doing. The more one engages in the activity, the more one inquires and gains experience. The more experience one gains, the greater the number of possible paths uncovered. With disciplined work habits, the potential of each path and a clear understanding of the right choice to follow will be revealed. How or where one elects to begin the task and from which point of departure (e.g., observation, memory, history) is not important. A starting point is just that: the first step in a journey, a place to begin, a way to garner momentum. Working with a variety of materials, methods, subject matter, techniques, and sources, this course will focus on the process of developing and growing ideas visually and on gaining intention, clarity, and understanding through making images each and every day, from the first day of the semester through the last. The two sections of this course will interact regularly, sharing both faculty and classmates, in an effort to encourage experimentation, innovation, and uniqueness of vision.

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Advanced Painting and Drawing Studio I

Advanced , Seminar—Fall

Open to juniors and seniors with prior visual-arts experience. Please bring examples of your work to interview.

This course is intended for experienced visual-arts students interested in more seriously pursuing their own methods of painting and/or drawing. Students will be given individual studio spaces and will be expected to work independently and creatively and to challenge themselves and their peers to explore new ways of thinking and making. Students will be expected to develop a sophisticated, cohesive body of independent work. We will have regular critiques in class and from visiting artists, readings, slide presentations, visiting artist talks, and trips to artists’ studios. In addition, you will create an artist’s statement and participate in developing the Visual Arts Lecture Series. This will be an immersive studio course for serious, disciplined art students.

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Advanced Painting and Drawing Studio II

Advanced , Seminar—Spring

Open to juniors and seniors with prior visual-arts experience. Preference given to those students who plan to continue from the fall. Please bring examples of your work to the interview.

This course is intended for experienced visual-arts students interested in more seriously pursuing their own methods of painting and/or drawing. Students will be given individual studio spaces and will be expected to work independently and creatively and to challenge themselves and their peers to explore new ways of thinking and making. Students will be expected to develop a sophisticated, cohesive body of independent work. We will have regular critiques in class and from visiting artists, readings, slide presentations, visiting artist talks, and trips to artists’ studios. In addition, you will create an artist’s statement and participate in developing the Visual Arts Lecture Series. This will be an immersive studio course for serious, disciplined art students.

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Our Nine Senses: Advanced Interdisciplinary Studio

Intermediate/Advanced , Seminar—Year

Open to juniors and seniors with prior visual art experience.

This course is intended for experienced visual-arts students interested in more rigorously pursuing their own methods of art making. Students will maintain individual studio spaces; they will be expected to work independently and creatively and to challenge themselves and their peers to explore new ways of thinking and making. During the fall semester, students will be given open-ended prompts based on nine human senses (vision, hearing, smell, taste, touch, balance, temperature, proprioception, pain) from which they will be asked to experiment with materials and ideas. In the spring semester, students will focus exclusively on their own interests and will be expected to develop a sophisticated, cohesive body of independent work. We will have regular critiques, readings, slide discussions, professional visiting artists, and trips to artist’s studios. This will be an immersive studio course for serious, disciplined art students.

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Drawing on Sight

Open , Seminar—Fall

This course is suitable for all levels.

Drawing is an exciting art form that encourages experimentation and embraces mistakes; it’s a record, on paper, of how we see and think. This will be a highly creative, rigorous course that will challenge you to think about the medium of drawing in new and transformative ways. In class, you will learn the fundamental techniques and materials of observational drawing and will then apply them to subjects off campus. We’ll alternate in-class drawing lessons with trips to different locations to draw “on site.” We’ll work in nature at various locations along the Hudson River and in architectural spaces such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Natural History, the Cloisters, New York City galleries, and others. You’ll be asked to consider your point of view as something fluid, organic, and personal. Ultimately, your drawings will reflect how YOU see the world. Studio practice will be reinforced through discussion, written work, readings, and slide lectures. Visiting artists and studio visits with artists in New York City will be scheduled.

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Definitely Not Floccinaucinihilipilification: Painting and Words

Intermediate/Advanced , Seminar—Spring

Open to students who have had painting courses in college or advanced high-school level.

The relationship between art and language has been explored in dynamic ways throughout art history and in contemporary painting. From ancient cave paintings and Egyptian hieroglyphs to Cy Twombly’s scrawled relief paintings and Alfred Jensen’s impasto diagrams, the fusion of language into paint has long been at the core of visual expression. How does the way a word looks—its shape, color, and size—relate to what it says? How many ways can you read a work of art? In this painting course, students will probe the dynamic between the formal qualities of language and its content. Via the prism of text, we will paint color and space through diverse processes (observational, invented, historical, abstract). Primarily an oil painting class, we will also experiment with watercolor, acrylic, encaustic, and other nontraditional painting mediums. In this class, you will be asked to explore the exciting dynamics of the painted word. Studio practice will be reinforced through discussion, written work, readings, and slide lectures. Visiting artists and studio visits with artists in New York City will be scheduled.

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Drawing On Sight

Open , Seminar—Year

Drawing is an exciting art form that encourages experimentation and embraces mistakes; it’s a record, on paper, of how we see and think. This will be a highly creative, rigorous course that will challenge you to think about the medium of drawing in new and transformative ways. In the fall semester, you will learn to use the fundamental tools and techniques of observational drawing to translate onto paper what you see of the visible world through your own unique point of view. Our subjects will include the human body, still life, photographs, spaces, drawings from nature, etc. We will not keep our subjects at a distance but will try to connect with them, move around and through them, and deconstruct them to really SEE what we are drawing from diverse viewpoints. In the spring semester, you’ll apply what you’ve learned in the fall to subjects off campus. Each week, we’ll travel to a different location to draw “on site.” We’ll work in nature—on various locations along the Hudson River—and in museums such as the Metropolitan Museum and Museum of Natural History in New York City, among others. You’ll investigate a wide range of exciting subjects using the tools of drawing. Ultimately, your drawings will reflect how YOU see the world. This course is suitable for all levels. Studio practice will be reinforced through discussion, written work, readings, slides, and museum visits. Visiting artists and studio visits with artists in New York City will be scheduled.

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Collage

Open , Seminar—Fall

The term collage was coined by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque in the early 20th century. Collage is an art form comprised of pre-existing images that the artist manipulates and recombines in new ways. The term is derived from the French “coller,” meaning “glue.” In this studio course, students will explore the myriad processes and materials of collage today—paper, paint, 3-D objects, digital, photographic, found materials, and others. We will also learn, through slide lectures and presentations, about the history of collage from its origins in Eastern art to its recent resurgence in Western contemporary art. Visits to artists’ studios in New York City and visiting artists in class will also provide a foundation and inspiration for our work. Pervading this exploration will be an ongoing discussion about the significance of appropriation: What do authorship and creativity mean to you? This course will allow students to express themselves through the manipulation and recombination of images in extremely personal ways. Collage: almost always obsolete, almost always new. It’s an exciting line to walk.

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The Face: A Mixed-Media Studio

Open , Seminar—Spring

The history of portraiture is vast and rich in inventiveness, social commentary, psychology, and political power. The face, or portrait, will be our jumping-off point in this mixed-media studio course. Students will be asked to investigate portraiture—self-portraits and otherwise—in creative and personal ways and across mediums (painting, drawing, photo, sculpture, video, etc.). Students will experiment with point of view, scale, style, and various mediums. For context, we will look at the history of portraiture and how contemporary artists deal with the human face as subject matter. Students will be asked to research artists and styles of portraiture and present their work in class. Visits to artists’ studios in New York City and visiting artists in class will also provide a foundation and inspiration for our work.

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