Morgan O’Hara

When talking to my tutor, we discussed a way of drawing whereby I would use both hands to create pieces of art. By doing this, I am able to create my freedom in my art because I am not necessarily worrying about the image produced itself but focusing on that which I am responding to or interrupting.

Morgan O’Hara is a contemporary artist who uses both hands in her art. By using both hands she is able to create fluidity and movement in her work and able to create interesting shapes and lines. Born in LA in 1941, O’Hara grew up living in Japan but travelled back to the US where she gained her Master Degree in Art at the California State University.

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Morgan O’Hara, Live Transmission: The English National Ballet, 2012
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Morgan O’Hara, Live Transmission: On Stage, 2018
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Morgan O’Hara, Live Transmission: The English National Ballet, 2012

Not only does O’Hara do this but, she also has created work using words. Quoting the artists, “My main practice is drawing, and writing and drawing are not so far from each other”. I believe this to be true because they are both forms of creativity which use the hands whereby the brain is directing your pen or pencil on the paper to form shapes and patterns. When writing, words are just recognised shapes which we associate with language. One of O’Hara’s most known written pieces was when she decided to rewrite the US constitution and declaration of independence when Donald Trump came to power. Trump gave his address to the public on January 20th 2017, the day of his inauguration into power. O’Hara placed herself in the Rose Reading Room at the New York Public Library where she sat surrounded by pens and pencils with the hope that others around her would join in in the activity and “reflect on the words of the constitution”. Quoting O’Hara:

“hand copying a document can produce an intimate connection to text and its meaning”.

I think she is onto something with this statement because you are really focusing on the words when reading them to be copied onto the page. When reading the text in order to copy, your brain begins to interpret it and starts to think of different ways it could be reworded. Copying the text does not require you to reword it but your brain automatically does this.

Patrons of the library and family and friends of O’Hara began to join in with her and her activity throughout the day. The reasoning behind this piece was “a way to remind the public of the bedrock of our democracy at a time where political unrest is at a high”, which is fascinating because it brings the constitution into light and makes people think about the foundations of their rights. When looking at political it is a useful tool to look back at the first laws put in place in the constitution because they were written for a reason and are still valid in today’s politics.

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Linda Stillman, a handwritten copy of the Constitution, part of Morgan O’Hara’s “Handwriting the Constitution” project. Courtesy of Jeanette May Morgan.

Author: ninasartspace

Based in Cardiff studying Fine Art at the Metropolitan University. Originally from East Sussex. The career goal is Art Therapy with adults who suffer from PTSD and other mental issues which affect so many of us on a daily basis.

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