“Do you see me now?”
Artist of the Week
“Do you see me now?”
36” x 48” inches
Acrylic on canvas
K. O’Neill is a “20-something” Puerto Rican artist from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Primarily working in the female form and expressive profiles, O’Neill focuses on bold usage of color to vividly convey emotions in a way she feels words cannot often do. O’Neill is currently a psychology doctoral student and is an advocate for reducing the stigma surrounding mental health treatment through her work and interviews. O’Neill’s work aims to empower her audience to be bold and undiluted in their emotional expression in an era flooded with the glamorization of mental illness, internet ‘perfection’, and the rise of the influencer, intent on empowering her audience to embrace nuances of their own mental health in a way that embraces the good, the bad, and the not Instagram-worthy. As her work largely is up-close portraiture of deindividualized faces reduced to their most basic components, the focus of each piece is a facial expression, with colors chosen for translative emphasis. From her core, O’Neill’s goal for her work is to create beautiful, touching pieces with themes that are not beautiful, showing the duality of struggle and resilience. O’Neill is currently based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and has exhibited works in multiple venues across the Mid-Atlantic/Northeastern region of the United States, including Manhattan, NY, and Philadelphia, PA.
In many ways, my work has adopted a voice of its own. Specifically, I’ve found that I am worth more as an artist in being an authentic human being than in my work simply being ‘pretty’ by gallery and buyer standards. Initially, I did not intend to exhibit my work, as my earliest pieces were created as testaments to times and emotions that I didn’t want to discuss amid processing my mental health struggles. Growing up, I often felt the need to water down my feelings to overcome them- not letting the problems bubble up to the surface, associating emotionality with vulnerability and weakness. Part of this is easily attributed to cultural biases and birth order, but I digress. After realizing the utility of connection and the power of connecting with strangers on mental health, I have embraced the vulnerability knowing now it is strength to do so. In openly discussing thematic representations of trauma and my struggle with panic disorder, my work is my contribution to the plight of destigmatizing mental health conditions. My portrayal of unattractive feelings (e.g., hurt, sadness, anger) in pastel shades is representative of cognitive dissonance and societal pressure to maintain a ‘pretty face’. My work is unapologetically loud and vivid in a way I would’ve balked at years ago, dedicated to the fine line between aggression, vulnerability, and sensuality and the tightrope between feeling “not enough” and “too much” as a woman. These themes are often tied together by the color blue, symbolizing my pieces’ emotional depth and beckoning the audience to look beneath the surface and, therefore, look within.
2085 NW 2ND AVE , MIAMI FL 33127, UNITED STATES