Michael O'Keefe

June 17 - July 31, 2005

On view in the Mildred Hawn Gallery at Southern Methodist University were 29 individual works by sculptor Michael O’Keefe. These works included 22 small-scale drawings and seven sculptures, each about three feet in height. All were recent works, made within the previous six months. Having recently moved from Brooklyn N.Y., O’Keefe was working toward his MFA at SMU.

Within this exhibition O’Keefe worked exclusively with the figure- the isolated head and the full figure. These works revealed an interest in a historical tradition of drawing and sculpture, a decidedly non-mainstream aesthetic, and a seriousness of craft and content. This exhibition demanded more than casual perusal. The viewer was asked to draw connections between one drawing and another, between one sculpture and the next, and between the drawings and the sculpture as a whole. Some works echo artists of the past such as Rodin, Michelangelo, El Greco, and various modernist masters.

For the artist, this body of work is part of a larger exploration that began by asking the questions: Who is Abraham?, how does the figure of Abraham function for religious practitioners of today?, does Abraham have a face and what about those artists of the past who did personify Abraham?, and can a body or form be given to the figure of Abraham? According to O’Keefe this exploration (and the way he now views these works) opened back up onto larger, more general concerns of his regarding contemporary religious struggles, contemporary social and geo-political struggles, and the many other internal collisions within the individual psyche.