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2018 CJL Finalist: Dorothy O’Connor

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My ongoing series ‘Scenes’ centers around transforming spaces, often a room, into fantastical landscapes which frequently utilize elements of nature and the natural world to tell a story. Each concept, shaped predominantly by events in my life, creates a sort of conceptual autobiography. Building these life-sized installations also allows me to literally live inside my own imagination, if only for a short time and satisfies the need to create a more aesthetically pleasing reality. Each project takes months to complete, allowing me to fully immerse myself in its meticulous details. I enjoy creating many of the components in each set by hand: crocheting the ocean, crafting hundreds of paper birds, weaving a ceiling of roots from jute, etc. Learning a new skill each time I build a new scene helps to keep the process fresh.

This work began as a photography project. The scenes are captured with an 8×10 camera on film and a photograph remains the lasting imprint. Opening the scenes as a tableau vivants, however, installations which feature a live model, allows an audience to experience them as I do but to add their own interpretations and ideas, thus making the story a shared experience.