Cynthia O’Brien

Cynthia O’Brien has a Bachelor of Fine Art from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design and the University of Colorado. She lives in Ottawa where she is an active member of the arts community and recognized through Creation Grants and the Mid-Career Artist Award from the Council of the Arts, Ottawa. After participating in residencies in France, Australia and the United States, she created the first Artist in Residence at Blink Gallery in Ottawa.

Her work can be found in the collections of the Canada Council Art Bank, City of Ottawa and private collections in Canada, France and Australia.

Cynthia was first exposed to clay as a child and her dedication to the medium solidified quickly. She wanted to be a maker with humour and a personal story to tell. She has never lost sight of the basic understanding that clay, craft and art is essential within society and should be practiced and honoured.

She works with clay because of a relationship that has been created over years of studio practice. Touch is all that is needed to communicate what action is to be done next. Clay being one of her oldest relationships, Cynthia is grounded in the studio when working on emotional subject matters such as death, memory loss, love and relationships.

“In 2005 I earned a position to teach seniors in a studio at a longterm care facility. I mainly work with gentlemen who fought in WWII. I engage weekly in the creative process with people who never thought that they could express themselves in such a way. This job has made me better in communicating and empathy. It has also brought many questions of age, memory, personal significance and mortality to the forefront of my own art work.

There is inspiration everywhere and true learning comes from the day to day personal relationship with material. Dedicated time over years is the only way to find what that maker wants to say and how to say it. To create something meaningful.”  – C. O’Brien

Items for Sale

Fenced Garden Series, 2022

“Reflecting on working within the unique community of a long term care facility, these fenced gardens speak to the beauty and strength of our elder population. White porcelain with small amounts of colourful glaze refers to our hardy northern plant species. A picket fence encloses them, outside of which the world is quiet and still.

I grew as a person and as an artist during the pandemic… able to see beauty in the detailed, rich layers of life and able to see character in both our elders and in the ancient earth that we stand on.”

Nudibranch (Slug) Series, 2023

“The smallest creatures carrying the world on their backs. We are all dependent on each other.”