Santa Fe artist Katie O’Sullivan’s provocative paintings challenge typical notions of feminine beauty. Broken yet empowered, gritty yet enchanting, her confrontational figures are outward expressions of innermost feelings. Struggles, joys and fears are exposed through abstract mark making, bursts of color and dark shadowy forms. Physical accuracies are abandoned, yet the figures still retain their femininity with exaggerated anatomy and sensuality. O’Sullivan offers us a dual perspective on the figure that blends its physical and emotional existence.
O’Sullivan’s abstract style is a rebellious response to her classical and technical artistic training. Having always been drawn to the artistry of the human form, the New-Jersey born artist enrolled in every portrait-painting workshop or figure drawing class she could, even while majoring in graphic design at Parson’s School of Design in New York City. Through her graphic studies, O’Sullivan developed strong foundational skills in technical illustration, however, her skillset soon became obsolete to the industry as graphic design entered a new phase with the development of the computer. Faced with a career shift, O’Sullivan took the opportunity to travel. She moved to Florida and worked on yachts as a deckhand and dive instructor for five years, during which she traveled to Alaska, the Caribbean, Africa and Europe teaching scuba diving and exploring new cultures. Following her travels, O’Sullivan lived in northern California and took annual trips to Santa Fe, eventually moving to the southwest in 2015. She had continued to paint throughout her life experiences but didn’t pursue it as a full-time profession until 2014. O’Sullivan’s artistic career is reaching new heights as she immerses herself in her work surrounded by an artistically driven community.
O’Sullivan’s has recently taken up working with clay. Her sculptures, like the paintings, are reflections of the artist’s travels, studies, personal experiences and visceral feelings. Full of wonder and drama, the figures take on a life of their own as they push and pull their way into three-dimensional existence. The resulting figures are primal and animalistic, exalted visions of the feminine experience.