KQED Art School is on a mission to find out how artists develop their signature style, and we’re asking some prolific Bay Area artists to tackle this compelling question in order to figure out how one goes about developing an artistic approach that is recognizable and unique. Elisabeth Higgins O'Connor creates poignant, larger-than-life figures that are seemingly cobbled together with reused scrap materials including wood, textiles and newspaper. Like marginalized creatures who are attempting to overcome adversity, her sculptures evoke empathy with their perceived resiliency, towering stature and patchwork bodies. While these figures are utterly unusual, the use everyday materials can make them feel familiar and domestic.
As Higgins O'Connor explains in the latest episode of Art School, her style has been significantly influenced by the work of 18th/19th-century Spanish printmaker and romantic painter, Francisco Goya, particularly his Los Caprichos series of etchings that commented on Spain's societal shortcomings. Higgins O'Connor is also influenced by the ingenuity and creativity of shanty towns, such as the favelas in Brazil. She has exhibited her sculptures and drawings throughout California and the United States and has been a professor of figurative and ceramic sculpture at UC Davis and Sierra College, where she currently teaches. Find out more about how Elisabeth Higgins O'Connor's style developed as she offers ideas for discovering your own unique artistic style.
See more of Elisabeth Higgins O’connor’s work on her website.
This episode of Art School was filmed at the San Francisco Arts Commission Grove Street Gallery.