Artist: Connor O’Brien
Gallery: CSULB School of Art, Dr. Maxine Merlino Gallery
For this week’s artist conversation I got a chance to talk to Connor O’Brien, the artist that put on the exhibition Mentia. Connor is from Los Alamitos; he is a senior at CSULB pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in photography. O’Brien says that he has always enjoyed photography, especially studio photography because there is more control of the photographs environment. Six years ago Connor’s father was diagnosed with dementia, which is the inspiration behind this exhibition. Mentia is O’Brien’s final assignment before he graduates from CSULB.
Connor O’Briens exhibition, Mentia, is comprised of a video being projected on the wall in the Merlino gallery. The subject of the video is Connor’s father, Michael O’Brien and his dementia. The video conveys the everyday life of Connor’s father, his brother, and Connor himself. In the video you see how O’Brien’s father is cared for by their family. Viewer’s get to see Connor and his brother helping their father get up to walk and go to the shower. The video also shows the two brothers helping their father shower and put on his clothing. O’Brien said that the video was shot in one day. He also added that his cousin made the music that is playing in the background of the video.
O’Brien says that his father’s illness has dramatically changed his life as well as his family. His father’s symptoms began about fifteen years ago but it didn’t affect his father until about six years ago when he began to experience major issues. He was then diagnosed with dementia and quickly began to lose his memory. Connor said his father is unpredictable now and his emotional state varies from day to day. O’Brien created the exhibition Mentia in order to bring awareness to dementia.
I found Mentia to be a very emotional piece of work and it is awesome to see that the artist is raising awareness for dementia. O’Brien really opens up his personal life to the viewers of this exhibition which I find to be very brave and courageous. The video reminded me of how fragile life is and how quickly things can change for anyone at anytime. I think the video was well put together and the music matched the video well. I salute Connor and his family for taking care of his father in times of need, and I praise Connor for opening up his personal world through this exhibition.