#painting / Project Lead Jen O'Connor

About the Project

Guide is a triptych of oil and acrylics on canvas that explores the benefits and necessity of education. Education is the process by which one can be guided and freed from illusions while allowing for the discovery of personal truths. When education is considered a privilege and not a right this causes for an imbalance in society. Those with ready access can dictate the course of events while exploiting destroying and denying it to those with no ready access. Education is about finding one’s potential and in turn actualizing this potential in the world. If the power of knowledge is shared, we will realize our ability to change the world for the better.

Intended impact and outcome of the project

I intend for these paintings to explain in the most straightforward way the absolute necessity of welcoming new persons into the academic world. By revisiting the narrative of “The Cave” this work aspires to explain why we must provide education for all that wish to receive it. When one is shamed by others because of their way of thinking it is much like the prisoner being dragged out of obscurity. It is a painful process in which the person did not choose to come to these realizations. I hope for these paintings to be able to communicate how important it is for people to discover this knowledge on their own. Education allows for everyone to contribute in meaningful ways while empowering those with language to better communicate their experience. Freedom from illusions can manifest in a way that one can progress more effectively and positively influence the world. We need everyone to be able to attain knowledge before we can advance as a society.

Artist Bio

Jen O’Connor works in a variety of mediums that include large scale mural works, sculptural experiments, ink drawings and paintings. Her works tend to deal with finding peace in the modern age. She enjoys creating works that include the full scope of what it means to be a human and how to find balance in life. She seeks to find both the beautiful and the repulsive in the work she creates. If something is to be beautiful, it’s opposite must also exist and she aspires to represent both. She also engages in a process that delves into understanding humans in their entirety, by placing them in surreal scenarios. She explores their true nature by using fictitious scenarios in otherworldly places such as a person being confronted with abstract shapes in a void. She wishes for all to be able to exist within such a scenario with peaceful determination and to learn how to exude a state of non-reaction.

My Education Story

My parents had always wished for me to have access to higher education and I would not find myself here today, if it weren’t for them. I did not yet understand the scope of what education had to offer but, devoting an amount of time to develop one’s work was enticing. The idea began to seem almost reasonable, despite the troublesome financial burden.

I soon realized that education does not seek to train one to fill a better paying job. It is about becoming someone who is able to make sense of the world around them in a more balanced and productive way. Gaining insight into the world allows one to understand their own subjectivity and cease to be controlled by it. An educated person can then go on to fill the positions in the world where they are needed.

It has not been an easy path to gain access to education and many hurdles had to be overcome. It seems almost absurd that a person would go through these lengths in order to get a proper education and unfortunately, most don’t. But they are the ones we need the most, those that systems of education do not readily accept with open arms. They possess perspectives and special qualities that are crucial to get long overdue change in motion.

Dear Premier…

I have done a lot of work in order to get myself to a place where attending a postsecondary school is feasible. I have made a lot of sacrifices that shouldn’t be necessary for one wishing to further their education. Before I went to school, I felt that I would never be able to understand the complexity of the world and that my best option was to find a job I didn’t mind too much, and make enough to survive. After attending school for almost 5 months now I have a deeper understanding of the ways in which our world is constructed. I can now decode why we do certain things and what types of thought are responsible for it. This helps me envision alternate realities to the one in which we live. As an artist, these ideas may seem far-fetched but they contain truth, they are meant to illuminate alternate perspectives in hopes of finding a realistic option. Such as, a world in which education is accessible for all that desire it. If we invest in our citizens, they will prove to be much more valuable than our natural resources. They will be able to use their intelligence in order to better our world and move in the direction of one in which humans can live harmoniously with each other and the with the earth.



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Yuriy Kyrzov, Bri Kim, Jingjing Wang

Who Will Pay?

Adan Lemus