O’Donnell’s practice explores the mnemonic possibilities of painting by focusing on three areas: working from the archive, memory and identity in relation to exploring her present day experience compared to that of earlier Irish migrants in the 20th century. She makes paintings from archived photographic images and stories exploring personal experiences and history entwined in the broader social/historical context. She is interested in the similarities between painting, memory and history in relation to having a free hand in terms of its selective capabilities, abstractness, fluidity, as well as creative license. Her most recent body of work called ‘Models’ is based on the stories and images archived for the text Models for Movers: Irish Women’s Emigration to America by Ide B. O’Carroll. It is a unique collection of Irish women’s oral histories spanning three waves of twentieth-century emigration to America in the 1920s,1950s and 1980s. O’Carroll found historical texts tend to ignore women completely or include them only in accounts of the human experience. With her work she attempts to push the boundaries in terms of how much narrative, can be contained the further the images are abstracted and absorbed into the painting. She is interested in the blurring and sometimes subconscious editing that takes place in relation to story telling and historical documentation from the past and the images, signifiers and elements that break through as well as the ones that are left behind. She also use abstract elements and specific colour studies as a way to pull the figurative work apart, while at the same time bringing a connective element to groupings of work. Some of the colour line studies have developed as a physical and time based map of making the paintings, with each line made using a colour from the figurative work.
2015, Models For Movers, NYU Glucksman Ireland House, New York
2013, Cyclical Narrative, The Art Shed, Hackney, London
2013, Mnemonic Ensemble, Clifden Arts Festival, Clifden, Ireland
Two Person Exhibitions:
2015, T R A S A T L A N T A C H A, Clifden Arts festival, Ireland
2015, T R A S A T L A N T A C H A, The Irish Arts Centre, New York
2015, #Working, Katherine Markel Gallery, Bridgehampton, New York
2014, Mr President, here are three things guaranteed in life. We will all die at some stage, each day the sun will set, and it will rise again tomorrow. Today is just one 2014,of those days, Brooklyn, New York.
2014, Layers of Response, New York Artist Residency and Studio Foundation, Brooklyn
2014, Curatism: The Gam#1, curated by Alessandro Facente, NARS, New York
2013, A Terrestrial Cutting And Assemblage II, curated by Eliza Swan, Netil House, London
2013, Central Saint Martins MA Show, Kings Cross, London
2013, And The Lads Too, curated by Owen Lacey, Irish Cultural Centre, Hammersmith
2013, We Wear Short Shorts, curated by MART for Irish Film Festival London.
2012, Eisge Open, Eisge, Carlow Arts Festival, Carlow.
2012, Culture Cloud, New Art Exchange, Nottingham.
2012, Make The Eighties The Decade Of Endeavour, KTcontemporary, Dublin.
2012, Central Saint Martins Interim Show, V22 Bermondsey, London.
2012, Female Irish Artists, Five Years Gallery, London.
2012, # 4, Concourse Gallery, Bryam Shaw Building, London
2011, Art Now, KTcontemporary, Dublin
2011, Collective Consciousness, Galway Arts Centre, Galway.
2011, Manifest, Kinsale Arts Week.
2011, What Are You Thinking?, curated by Austin Ivers, Niland Gallery, Galway.
2011, Somewhere, KTcontemporary, Dublin.
2011, Interstice, Artspace Studios Galway at Supermarket Art Fair, Stockholm.
2010, Inaugural Exhibition, KTcontemporary, Dublin.
2010, Put A Lid On It, Galway Arts Centre, Galway.
2010, Rossa Parks Showcase, Lorg Gallery, Galway.
2010, Assemblage, Clifden Community Arts Festival, Co.Galway.
2009, Ealaíon At Lunasa, Galway Arts Centre, Galway.