Kelly O’Neill


Kelly O’Neill was born and raised in Michigan and currently resides in Brighton, Michigan. O’Neill works with Clay and Metal – Using both wheel thrown and hand –built techniques, fired with crystal and raku glazes. Her metal work constructions are from recycled steel. Her art is the Fusion of Iron and Earth. Each piece is unique and symbiotically created. Multi-media artist creating one-of-a-kind sculptures from recycled steel, accented with ceramics and fused glass. Steel finishes include powder coating and natural oxidized patina. My Dad has always been a major influence in my life. You would describe him as a “renaissance” man. He was always exploring new creative expressions from photography to candle making. He found his true calling as a potter. I always followed his lead; enjoying the journey and camaraderie. His death started my artistic journey – first making mixed media creations with his pottery and enhancing them with metal receptacles. I wanted to crest a new perspective to honor my Dad’s art. I believe the expected presentation of a ceramic vessel limited its expression and uniqueness. This led to my exploration of metal form as its own artistic expression.
Recently, I am exploring the manipulation of metal through the use of fabrication machinery: Specifically, the bending and cutting of metal to form a more fluid and unique sculpture. Each shape contributes to the final form. The exploration of the positive and negative space, the composition and three dimensional process results in something unique that usually surprises me. As well, I am exploring better integration of my ceramic and steel pieces: Building each piece with the other medium in mind.
I have recently added fused glass into some of my metal sculptures. The added materials add a small but significant surprise and delight. The whimsical chaotic nature of the glass contradicts the hard edges of the metal. The glass is not meant to be the focal point of the piece – more of an exclamation point.
I am compelled to return to the outdoors and create sculptures designed to live within the garden and among the abundance of colors and textures of nature. The last summer solstice provided additional reflection of the importance of the sun and stars and their influence on culture and spirituality. I feel compelled to explore this curiosity. With my recent retirement from my marketing career, I have time to exhale and allow more introspection and thoughtfulness in my creations with attention to construction and care in production.
Finally, my story is more about the form than a political or social message. I find peace and purpose in the process. For now, this is my journey.

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