The Irish are renowned for their contribution to the visual arts from photography to graffiti, and these nominees for the IrishCentral Creativity & Arts award in the category of Top Irish Visual Artist are prime examples.
On February 9, in New York City, after almost a decade spotlighting the extraordinary achievements of the Irish creative community in the country, America’s largest Irish website will be honoring the cream of the crop at the first IrishCentral Creativity and Arts Awards.
Tickets for this event are now SOLD OUT but you can join us on Facebook Feb 9 to watch it live with TG4.
The IrishCentral Creativity and Arts Awards sponsors include TG4, Féile 30, Irish American Writers & Artists, Slane Irish Whiskey, American Irish Historical Society, and Irish Network USA.
Forty nominees have been selected across eight categories: Media & Innovation, Voice of Today, The Stage, The Written Word, The Screen, Visual Arts, Fashion & Design, and Irish American Centers and Festivals.
While the public can vote for several of the winners in these categories, a judging panel will choose the winner from this extraordinary list of Irish/Irish American artists and their work, to be announced in an awards ceremony on February 9.
Learn all about their work here first:
1. New York Artwork – Solus (Graffiti Artist)
You never, ever go down without a fight is the credo of Solus, the Dublin-based street artist who has left an indelible mark in Brooklyn through his work with the barnstorming Bushwick Collective.
Originally known for his large outdoor murals, Solus has also become a gallery artist, producing works on canvas and limited edition prints. His work centers on the themes of conquering inner demons and life's challenges.
Solus' first solo exhibition (Mis Spent Youth) was in the Culture Box in Temple Bar, Dublin, in 2011, leading to many a sell-out show in Ireland and abroad. Solus currently works with galleries in New York, Miami, Montreal, Australia, and Dublin.
2. ‘Here We Are’ - Oliver Jeffers (Author and Illustrator)
Loved and revered in New York and Belfast, irrepressible artist Oliver Jeffers creates sublime works of art and then destroys them – but in that moment of destruction is born an experience and artwork more beautiful still.
From figurative painting and installations to illustration and picture-book making, Oliver Jeffers’ work takes many forms. His distinctive paintings have been exhibited in many of the finest galleries, including Lazarides gallery and the National Portrait Gallery in London, the Brooklyn Museum and Spring Break Fair (Armory Week) in New York, and Gestalten Space in Berlin.
His dipped portraits are a marvel – a series of portraits that are subsequently dipped in paint, effectively hiding parts of the portrait's features.
The world-renowned children's author and illustrator has recently released his latest book, "Here We Are," a tender introduction to the world for his newborn son.
In total, he’s sold over 10 million picture books, which have been translated into more than 30 languages.
3. Alexander and Bonin Exhibition – John Ahearn (Artist & Sculptor)
It doesn’t get more inclusive than this: New York’s John Ahearn makes plaster casts of his collaborating subjects and displays these deeply personal artworks in community settings.
Ahearn creates life casts of people in his Bronx neighborhood. In the late 1970s, early in his career, Ahearn joined artists like Tom Otterness and Jenny Holzer in setting out to find alternatives to the gallery scene and make art more accessible to the public. With the assistance of Rigoberto Torres, Ahearn produces the casts on the sidewalk outside his studio, allowing the work to emerge authentically from the community. The finished pieces capture the specific attributes of the models, from the types of clothing they wear to the attitudes of their poses.
"Who are these people and why did the artist decide to portray them?” #JohnAhearn #RigobertoTorres's Titi in the Window and Luis’ Mother (1986-1987) are both of people from the South Bronx. Their casts are part of a narrative larger than any one individual, they are a tribute to all of the people of the South Bronx community. – #askbkm team's @museummistress #bkmcontemporary
He was a founding member of Collaborative Projects, Inc., and co-organizer of the “Times Square Show” (1980). Ahearn’s work has been included in group exhibitions at the New Museum of Contemporary Art (1980); the Institute of Contemporary Art, London (1982); the Whitney Museum of American Art (1985); the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (1993); the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (1996); the Irish Museum of Modern Art (2008-2009); the Bronx Museum of the Arts (2009-2010); and “Greater New York” at MoMA PS1, New York (2015).
4. MoMA PS1 Exhibition - Cathy Wilkes (Artist & Sculptor)
Turner Prize nominee Cathy Wilkes creates anonymous, life-size sculptures which trigger deep responses of empathy and emotion from her global audiences.
The largest exhibition of the artist’s work to date, “Cathy Wilkes” at MoMA PS1, featured approximately 50 works from public and private collections throughout Europe and North America, as well as new pieces created for the show, offering a broad view of Wilkes’ work since 2004. Wilkes was the recipient of the first Maria Lassnig Prize, awarded by the Maria Lassnig Foundation in 2016.
For more than two decades, Cathy Wilkes (born in Ireland) has created a body of work that engages with the rituals of life, combining paintings, drawings, sculptures, and objects both found and altered. Regularly employing materials drawn from her domestic life and environment in Glasgow, Wilkes’ installations connect the banalities of daily existence to larger archetypes of birth, marriage, child-rearing, and death. This combination of the personal and universal parallels a meditation at the heart of her work, in which Wilkes’ art enacts an exercise in empathy, exposing deeply felt subjective experiences while also insisting upon the fundamentally private nature of artmaking.
5. ‘Spitting Image’ series - Eva O’Leary (Photographer)
Honest and uncompromising, Eva O’Leary turned the spotlight on young women’s images of themselves in an era of fake news and false photos in "Spitting Image,” her New York solo debut exhibition.
O’Leary was named a Foam Talent in 2014, and 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 The New York Times ‘T’, WIRED Magazine, and The Huffington Post. She received a BFA from California College of the Arts in 2012, and an MFA from Yale in 2016. In 2017 she was the recipient of the Vontobel Contemporary Photography Prize.
In “Spitting Image,” O’Leary shows women who have been inundated with years and decades of images of how their bodies should look and how their own fantasies and desires should be suppressed.
The center of the exhibition shows young women reacting to their own appearance in a two-way mirror. They are not comfortable in their own skin and they have an unsettling vulnerability, a video of them posing in the mirror showcases the mixture of anxiety and confidence in being confronted with your own image.