Eva O’Leary’s award-winning Spitting Image photography series is at the Butler Gallery in Kilkenny Castle through March 3.

An exhibition of Irish American photographer Eva O’Leary’s Spitting Image series has opened at the Butler Gallery at Kilkenny Castle. This marks O’Leary’s first show in Ireland.

Honest and uncompromising, Spitting Image, which debuted in 2017,  turns the spotlight on young women’s images of themselves in an era of fake news and false photos.

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The photos, described by The New Yorker as ‘anti-selfies,’ feature teenage girls from the Happy Valley region of Pennsylvania reacting to their own appearance in a two-way mirror. The powerful compositions showcase the potent mixture of anxiety and confidence her subjects feel in being confronted with and/or trying to control their own images.

O’Leary grew up in both Happy Valley (formally known as State College, PA) and in Drumshambo, Co. Leitrim. Her mother is the Irish artist Helen O’Leary and her father is American, and O’Leary’s dual insider/outsider sensibility is keenly felt in much of her work.

As she recently explained in an interview with The Times , “I was living in Drumshanbo, going to school in Carrick,” she said. “All my friends [in the US] had matured while I was away; they were really into partying. I came back trying to navigate that and conform to what was ‘normal’. That part of life was so pivotal in relating to others. I felt it helped me connect to the girls in Spitting Image, to that kind of pressure to conform.”

O’Leary was the winner of the Visual Arts category at IrishCentral’s inaugural Creativity Awards in 2018.

Born in 1989, O’Leary received a BFA from California College of the Arts in 2012 and an MFA from Yale in 2016. She was the recipient of the Hyères Festival Photographie Grand Prix in 2018, The Vontobel Contemporary Photography Prize in 2017, and was named a Foam Talent in 2014.

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She has exhibited in solo and group exhibitions within the United States and abroad, including at the Serpentine Gallery (London), l'Atelier Néerlandais (Paris), and Danziger Gallery (New York). Her work has appeared in various publications, including Aperture, Artform, The New Yorker, The New York Times ‘T’, WIRED Magazine, and The Huffington Post.

The exhibition is at the Butler Gallery until March 3. More info here

Photographs from Eva O'Leary's "Spitting Image" Eva O'Leary