Born in Omaha, NE in 1977, Robyn O’Neil received her BFA from Texas A&M University-Commerce, TX in 2000. O’Neil began her graduate studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago, IL making bold, abstract paintings in fashionable colors. While struggling to carve out her niche, O’Neil shifted from painting to drawing—leaving colorful brushstrokes for the shaded grays of pencil lines. She turned, purposefully, from the bold to the seemingly banal, from a costly medium to one she could work with anytime and anywhere. It was at this point, in the year 2000, that O’Neil started working with 10 x 12 inch drawings on paper.
Not only had Robyn O’Neil discovered her medium of choice, but she also found a subject matter that she would continue to explore. Her father and his friends became the base model for works that featured small groupings of men, clad in black sweat suits, captured in minimally articulated wilderness scenes. While the men seem to be the focus, they appear curiously unnatural and devoid of human emotions. In Diamond Leruso and Eddie Koynz (2000) two poker-faced characters ski dangerously close to craggy rocks; in Wrestlers and Miami Dave (2001) military planes zoom toward a field dotted by a lonely tree, two wrestlers, and a man doing calisthenics. What is causing the men to do these things? Why do they seem so unaware of the dangers around them? Is their world the same as ours? Rather than answering questions, O’Neil’s enigmatic images raise them.
Robyn O’Neil was based in Dallas, TX before moving to Houston, where she currently lives and works. O’Neil has had solo exhibitions at Clementine Gallery, New York, NY (2003) and at Angstrom Gallery, Dallas, TX (2001). She has been included in group exhibitions at the Dallas Museum of Art, TX (2003); Mixture Gallery, Houston, TX (2002); and at the Arlington Museum of Art, TX (2001). Her work can be seen in an upcoming solo exhibition at Inman Gallery, Houston, TX (2003-2004). The piece O’Neil produced at ArtPace will be shown in the 2004 Biennial Exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY.