Artist/art professor John A. O’Connor characterizes his series White Lies Matter: Decoding American Deceptionalism as “a history of American hypocrisy”. Using the image of the slate as a consistent base, White Lies Matter ranges across historical and contemporary America, touching down at flashpoints of inequality, misunderstanding, and conflict. From the gradual decay of national institutions to more immediate political crises, O’Connor’s project traverses a list of illegalities and cover-ups, oppressions and suppressions, tracing links between individuals and institutions in positions of influence. It begins with Christopher Columbus and the First Thanksgiving - mythologies that crumble very easily by now - and moves on through the contradictory and belated embedding of religion in the nation’s founding documents, to the calamitous installation of Donald Trump as its 45th president.
White Lies Matter: Decoding American Deceptionalism reveals the deceptions, lies, and cynicism of American and the “face news” and “alt-facts” that permeate contemporary society.
White Lies Matter: Decoding American Deceptionalism © John A. O'Connor 2017-18
limited edition archival pigment print from the first plate of the upcoming publication White Lies Matter
Plate 51: BOOM! ©John A. O'Connor 2018
Plate 16: Normalcy© John A. O'Connor 2018
White Lies Matter: Decoding American DeceptionalismThe Inspiration Behind the Political Art Textbook Series
John O'Connor's painting breakthrough came, appropriately for an artist who is also a professor, in a University of Florida classroom. He was, as so often, looking at a blackboard. That was the breakthrough. "It was staring me in the face," he told a TV interviewer. "The perfect vehicle for my art". This was 1984 and the chalkboard paintings, O'Connor's most ambitious and commanding suite of work, were underway the following year. O'Connor had begun making art over three decades before in Northern California. He was painting, and much impacted by the Bay Area realists, one of whom, Richard Diebenkorn, he got to know well. It was other California artists, such as Wayne Thiebaud, who steered him towards also having a teaching career. This took him to Ohio University in 1965 and to the University of Florida four years later. At this time O'Connor was making the paintings he described as Conceptual Realism, the work which developed into the Chalkboard Series. Here he shows a huge gift for rendering objects - a crumpled envelope, a scrap seemingly taped a canvas - with the finesse of a high-res photograph, making you itch to reach out and touch them. This faux work brings to my mind an observation by the French history painter, Paul Delaroche in 1839, after he was shown a daguerrotype, a very early photograph, in 1839 From today painting is dead, he gloomed.
-From an Essay about John A. O'Connor's Chalkboard Series by Anthony Haden-Guest
White Lies Matter: Decoding American DeceptionalismVirtual Gallery Installation
John A. O'Connor's White Lies Matter is a "corrective curriculum" revealing the unvarnished truth behind American History. These didactic visual lessons use old-fashioned elementary school slates, scribbled notes and antique photographs to re-teach American history. Intended as an educational textbook, this virtual installation presents the past, present, and future of American History, blending analog process to current digital translation.