Erin O’Keefe starts 2014 with startling, meditative photographs

Published:  March 31, 2014

Erin O’Keefe is a visual artist and architect whose work is informed equally by both disciplines, building with her hands, documenting and composing, exploring themes of space and perception. Using paper craft as a sculpting tool, light, shadow and photography, she suggests depth through clever illusion or printed gradients, abstracting a simple form into something mysterious, or unreconciled.

“My background in architecture is the underpinning for my art practice, providing my first sustained exposure to the issues and questions that I explore in my photographs,” she explains on her site. “The questions that I ask through my work are about the nature of spatial perception, and the tools that I use to explore these issues are rooted in the abstract, formal language of making that I developed as an architect.”

Her first collection of work for 2014 is The Flatness, a title referencing both the nature of the photograph and the conceptual flattening of the work itself. The series, featuring arrangements of Photoshop gradients, painted plywood and paper, are composed to expose our own limited awareness of space. This series of visually-seductive images have been heavily shared and appreciated as attractive .PNGs, but her conceptual practice continues to anchor any misunderstood ‘prettiness’ of her work.

“As a photographer, I am interested in the layer of distortion and misapprehension introduced by the camera as it translates three dimensional form and space into two dimensional image,” she explains. “In architecture there is a similar dissonance, as one attempts to describe concrete dynamic conditions with tools that are inherently abstract, negotiating between drawing, model and the potently absent building. The representation of the building and the building itself are two radically different things, as is the photograph and its subject.

“This inevitable and often fruitful misalignment is the central issue in my practice.”

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