Kevin O'Connell | Fog Journal


Kevin O'Connell | Fog Journal
Jan 30 – Mar 27, 2021

With quietude and a sense of the poetic, Colorado artist Kevin O’Connell brings attention to the layered light and subtle color shifts of the deep woods in his newest series of photographs.  The intimate solo exhibition is the first segment of three suites in “FOG JOURNAL”, which includes the categories: Forest, Ocean and Beach. O’Connell’s exhibited first suite provides artful transport into an ancient view through the mist and haze of dreamlike forests, as they generously offer a psychological respite from a complex, contemporary world. In O’Connell’s writings, he describes his experiences and observations of a nature larger than himself:

“It was a Thursday when the fog that had hung over Neahkahnie Mountain descended and enveloped the house.  I knew when I woke because the sound of the birds was different.  The sharpness of their calls was softened, more gentle and slow. It was the beginning of a time of fog and mystery.

I worked at a different pace and with a different tenor, perhaps slower and more contemplative.  The beach, the forests, and the cliffs on the mountain each held a slightly different fascination in the fog.  The beach was at times so deeply encased that navigation was by sound.  The sound of the surf was the only spatial reference, and it created an uneasy sensation of vertigo.  Occasionally, a large wave would sound giving rise to a flight response. 

On the cliffs, one looked out into an infinite white nothingness.  The sound of the surf was clear, but at such great height, more ethereal and haunting.  There were sometimes gaps in the fog that would suddenly reveal depth and distance, as though one was awakened from a dream.  It was a startling jolt of reality. 

Unlike the beach and the cliffs, the forests were sheltering and soothing.  The canopy offered protection from the elements, and any sense of existential angst disappeared.  If it was raining the treetops muted the effect, turning the rain into a soft, invigorating mist.  There were more details in the branches and undergrowth, but hearing became the dominant sense.  Sound was dampened and forgiven by the mossy forest floor - the surf could no longer be heard.  There were small birds, squirrels, owls, and even the scurrying of rodents, but they could not be seen.  Colors melded together to form comforting auras of cool or warmth.

When in the fog our external references are removed.  We lose the horizon and dimensionality.  I sometimes thought about the experience of being on an airliner in the fog.  Intellectually, one knows there is movement, but the movement has no empirical reference.  The movement has essentially stopped, and one is in a sort of experiential limbo.  In this way time also seems to slow down. 

So it was, being in the fog.  It was altered state in which the chaos of the world stopped.  There was calm, quiet, stillness, and a connection to being human that had been difficult in recent times.”

- Kevin O'Connell

Kevin O’Connell is a graduate of Purdue University and the University of Denver. He has twice been a Ucross Fellowship recipient and has exhibited in solo shows at MCA Denver and the Aspen Art Museum, Nicolaysen Art Museum, Casper, Wyoming, and in group exhibitions at the Denver Art Museum, among others. His work is included in the permanent museum collections of Center for Creative Photography, Tucson, Museum of Fine Art Houston, Los Angeles County Museum of Art,  Denver Art Museum, Bibliotheque Nationale de France, Paris, Museu de Arte Moderna, Rio de Janeiro, Brigham Young University Museum of Art, Ross Art Museum, Wesleyan University and Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, along with Qwest Communications, Inc., Kaiser Permanente, Inc., Fidelity Investments, Inc.,  Captiva Resources, Inc. and many other corporate and private collections such as the Born and Crawford Hotels and the Denver Convention Center Hotel where both photography and video are permanently installed.