Kat O'Connor

Through a Dream

materials funded: oil paper, aluminum panels, birch panels, brushes, paint containers

For me, swimming is a metaphor for painting. The painter and the viewer enter the same space, but experience it in different ways. Some elements are sharp and specific. Some elements are abstracted and can be interpreted in multiple ways. Darkness might be water or the depths of space. Bits of light could be air bubbles or stars.

When swimming, I feel a momentary break from the world. Sounds are muted, light changes and bounces around in a way that doesn’t happen above water. I’m more aware of the environment around me pressing into my skin, buoyed along as if there is no gravity. Like flying in a dream, the smallest movement of an arm or leg propels me through space and time. 

I am acutely aware of the privilege of swimming. The idea of utilizing the amount of water it takes to fill a swimming pool for recreation is something that I never take for granted. Water is a basic human requirement. It is both otherworldly and critical, and I strive to represent both the magic and the necessity of this element to human existence.


About the artist

Kat O’Connor earned a Bachelor of Arts in drawing with highest honors from Montana State University in 1990 and a Master of Fine Arts in painting from the University of Texas at San Antonio in 1995. O'Connor was awarded a Mass Cultural Council Fellowship for her drawings in 2018, and is honored to have received a Sam and Adele Golden Foundation for the Arts 2021 Residency. She received an Arts Worcester Material Needs Grant in 2017 and 2021. She is a Copley Master in the Copley Society of Art in Boston, Massachusetts, and her work is included in many private and corporate collections. O’Connor has exhibited her work nationwide, including three solo shows at regional museums, and won numerous awards. O’Connor has shared her love of art with students at Southwest Texas State University, The University of Texas at San Antonio, Worcester State University, Worcester Art Museum, DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park, and Umbrella Center for the Arts in Concord, Massachusetts. She has led landscape painting workshops in Maine, New Hampshire, Cape Cod, New Mexico, Italy, and Greece.




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