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Kat O’Connor

A History of Motion, 2021, Oil on panel, Courtesy of the Artist.

Visit Kat O’Connor’s website
Instagram: @katopaints  

Hear from the Artist



My name is Kat O’Connor and the work that I am exhibiting in the Newport Biennial is called A History of Motion.

For me, swimming is a metaphor for painting. The painter and the viewer enter the same space, but experience it in different ways. Some elements are sharp and specific. Some elements are abstracted and can be interpreted in multiple ways. Darkness might be water or the depths of space. Bits of light could be air bubbles or stars.

When swimming, I feel a momentary break from the world. Sounds are muted, light changes and bounces around in a way that doesn’t happen above water. I’m more aware of the environment around me pressing into my skin, buoyed along as if there is no gravity. Like flying in a dream, the smallest movement of an arm or leg propels me through space and time. 

Bits of air enter with me from the outside world, resulting in bubbles flowing from my motion, rising and distorting with their passage through the water. The quantity of bubbles changes based on the speed of the body, masses of bubbles erupting in the dramatic rush of a canon-ball, fewer bubbles rising up with a graceful dive. A History of Motion explores that movement, capturing a trail in a medium that never stops moving or changing.