Archived Exhibition

Kelly O'Connor: Deepfake

Fri, Mar 8, 2024 → Sat, Apr 27, 2024

Kelly O'Connor

Oxford American

Over the span of fifteen years, Kelly O’Connor has employed an inventive approach to her collage works and site-specific installations that challenges utopian ideals of Western folklore and popular culture. Her imagery often appropriates photographs of familiar, iconic scenes and memorabilia which she dissects through a critical lens. For this exhibition, she focuses on imagery of fabricated environments produced for mass consumption in the early days of technicolor pictures, such as The Wizard of Oz, and theme parks created by the Walt Disney Company.

The exhibition’s title, Deepfake, references various meanings of “deep”. Deep as in slang, interpreted to be authentic or difficult to understand. Deep in the physical sense, extending far down from the top or surface. Deep in a literary sense, very intense or extreme. Deepfake, a more recent, particular type of Artificial Intelligence. Each of these definitions inform the conceptual structure of the exhibition in which the work delves into perceptions of authenticity, identity, and shared experience through popular media and cultural engagement.

Much of O’Connor’s work aims to expose the realities behind enduring facades and fabricated environments that impact our collective psyche. “The intent of my work is to challenge the trickery of ‘the man behind the curtain’ who is pulling the strings, while also embracing the incredible influence these stories and environments have on our individual and generational memories and ideals,“ she states. For example, In her Wizard of Oz-inspired works — Duality of Glenda (The Good Witch vs. The Good Fairy), Garden of Earthly Delights, and Vertigo — the reflections of images create mesmerizing symmetrical patterns that unfold on one another like a Rorschach Test, mimicking the metaphorical nature of the lore.

O’Connor was not raised in a family that visited museums or had discussions about art; rather, she was immersed in an environment of craft, particularly quilting and cross stitch. Reflecting on this, O’Connor says, “My mother was an avid crafter who was often working on samplers and quilts. This piecing together of shapes informed many of the processes employed in my collages and how I build my compositions.” Indeed, O’Connor’s collages are constructed much like a quilt, but in which digital and physical elements are assembled and layered into the formation of her compositions. The use of reflective surfaces such as mirrors, foil, glitter, and gilded paper catch light and make what is two-dimensional feel three-dimensional. This sense of movement through light creates a perception of time, ambiguity, and an immersive experience for the viewer.


Kelly O’Connor was born in 1982 in San Antonio. She earned her BFA from the Visual Arts School at the University of Texas at Austin in 2005, with a focus on site-specific installation, sculpture, and photography.

She was included in the 2007 Texas Biennial and featured in New American Paintings in 2013. In 2012, O’Connor received a grant from the Artist Foundation of San Antonio, which she utilized for her solo exhibition titled “The Last Resort” at Women in Their Work in Austin, TX, in 2013.

O’Connor’s artwork has been showcased in numerous exhibitions at museums across Texas. In 2015, she was commissioned by The Blaffer Art Museum at the University of Houston to create a site-specific installation. In 2020, The McNay Art Museum commissioned her to create a site-specific installation for the AT&T Lobby of their contemporary wing. O’Connor’s work has also been exhibited at Ballroom Marfa (2007), Blue Star Contemporary Art Center (2009), McNay Art Museum (2015 and 2023), Tyler Art Museum (2017), Sam Houston State University (2015), and San Antonio Museum of Art (2016). Institutional collections that hold her works include The Ford Foundation, New York, NY; The City of San Antonio, and the McNay Art Museum.