Michael O'Brien

I currently reside in San Antonio, TX with my wife and two step children. I majored in sculpture at Texas State University where I was first introduced to bronze casting methods and materials. After college I moved to Chicago where I took in the sights, sounds and most importantly the shifting moods of Lake Michigan. In 2005 I was encouraged to move back to Texas and work alongside my former college classmates at a commercial bronze foundry. The time spent there proved to be a formative period; I mastered the labor-intensive practice of bronze casting and developed a body of work inspired by water and my time living near the Great Lakes.

Now almost 20 years later, I still employ the age-old practice of bronze casting for the majority of my work. The varied surface effects created by combining texture and patina continues to intrigue me and I have found the heavy solid material convincingly conveys the formless and fluid characteristics of water.

More recently I have begun dipping my toes into newer creative technologies, namely, CNC machining. This process allows me to turn a digital photograph of water into a carved wood sculpture. Using reclaimed lumber and techniques learned from the bronze patina process I strive to create similar tones and feelings with wood and paint media.


Artist Statement of Work

Tell us about your work (style, approach, philosophy, subject and/or theme):

I often get asked ‘why water, why boats?’ To me it’s the same question as ‘why do we go to the beach? Or, ‘why do we flock to lakes and rivers, why are we so drawn to water?’ The answers seem as obvious as they do fleeting and mysterious. Water offers us an opportunity to reset; to momentarily forget our troubles, concerns or deadlines. We can float weightless and silent, ride an endless supply of wind and waves or plunge beneath the surface to visit things that don’t inhabit our daily lives.

The boats are vessels much like our own bodies. Within which we carry around interpretations and internalizations of the outside world and how it has affected us throughout our lives. We are individuals formed by the infinite sea of people and the cause-and-effect of our own triumphs and hardships. The boats filled with their surrounding water are metaphors of that very duality.

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