Danni O’Brien: Cross Sections

Danni O’Brien: Cross Sections

On view July 14 – October 11, 2022 at the Tephra ICA at Signature Gallery

Tephra Institute of Contemporary Art (Tephra ICA) presents Cross Sections, an exhibition of new work by Baltimore-based artist Danni O’Brien. The exhibition will be on view at the Tephra ICA at Signature gallery July 14 – October 11, 2022. An in-person reception and artist talk will be held on Thursday, August 4 at 6pm in the outdoor courtyard at the Signature Apartments in Reston Town Center. 

 In Cross Sections, interdisciplinary artist Danni O’Brien (she/they) has built each artwork around a lifted instructional diagram or a found object, carefully stripping away their original functions. O’Brien uses the act of decontextualization deliberately, creating wall hung constructions that become disconcertingly familiar, yet they resist recognition. Within the visceral surfaces and quasi-bodily forms, the compositional logic of systems and mechanisms prevail. And in each work lies the energy of an imminent break—something that is roiling but withheld, constrained but about to break through.

“At the base of it, my work is a layering of material—often heavily connoted or nostalgic. In this layering, I am interested in the arrangements and conglomerations that result, revealing how materials can misbehave or try to be something they are not,” says O’Brien about the featured work. “The tensions and contradictions that play out abstractly in these works become poignant in the context of our current political discourse,” states Hannah Barco, curator of the exhibition. “For example, in O’Brien’s most recently completed work, Homemade Barriers, the diagram is sourced from the book Contraception Naturally! where the embedded objects include silicone foods trays and a brush used for baby care. This work is infused with the heightened emotions surrounding the recent supreme court decisions on Roe vs. Wade.” 

Danni O’Brien is an interdisciplinary artist from Northern Virginia currently based in Baltimore, Maryland. Her practice is rooted in irreverence, haphazard play, and owned queerness. O’Brien has exhibited nationally and internationally, having shown regionally with Arlington Arts Center, Hillyer Arts Space, Latela Curatorial, Current Space, Terrault, School 33 Art Center, and the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art, among others. She has been awarded residencies nationally and internationally at PLOP, The Wassaic Project, Proyecto Ace, Art Farm, Baltimore Clayworks, Azule, Red Lodge Clay Center, and The Maple Terrace. She is the recent recipient of a 2022 Individual Artist Grant from the Belle Foundation for Cultural Development. O’Brien is currently preparing for upcoming group exhibitions with Pazo Fine Art, Asya Geisberg, and Soloway Gallery in late summer 2022, and a solo exhibition with SHAG Gallery in Charlotte, North Carolina this coming autumn. 

Tephra ICA at Signature, located at the Signature apartment building in Reston, VA, is an innovative satellite gallery space that presents a year-round schedule of exhibitions featuring work by local and regional artists as selected by Tephra ICA curatorial staff. The gallery is provided in partnership with Boston Properties and Bozzuto, and generously sponsored by Reston Community Center. 

Visitors are welcome Tuesday–Saturday from 11am–5pm. Face masks are required to enter. The gallery is located at the Signature apartment building at 11850 Freedom Dr, Reston, VA. 

Opening Reception and Artist Talk

Thursday, August 4, 6pm

The reception will take place in person at the outdoor courtyard at the Signature Apartments and will include a brief artist talk. Please RSVP at rsvp@tephraica.org 

Pictured at top:
Danni O’Brien, Clog II, 2021. Image courtesy of the artist. 

About Tephra Institute of Contemporary Art (Tephra ICA)

Tephra ICA is a non-profit, non-collecting institution committed to promoting innovative contemporary art and thinking. Leading with curiosity and care, the organization is a catalyst, generator, and advocate for visual arts. 

Tephra ICA is supported in part by ArtsFairfax, Reston Community Center, Virginia Commission for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts. 


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