In conversation with Eva O'Leary

by Unseen December 17 2018

Key to Unseen Amsterdam's ethos is its commitment to talent development, with programmes set up specifically to support emerging talent in the world of contemporary photography. In our fifth and final interview with this year’s Talent Development award winners, we chat with artist collective Eva O'Leary (IE), who won the Outset Unseen Exhibition Fund. She will have her first solo show in the Netherlands at Foam in spring 2019.

Can you tell us a little more about the work that won you the Outset Unseen Exhibition Fund?
This work is a small portion of a much larger project, titled Happy Valley. This body of work grew from my experiences (and their lasting impact) of growing up in a town entrenched in many toxic aspects of American culture.

How was your Unseen Amsterdam 2018 experience?
It was a whirlwind, I was grateful to meet so many wonderful people. This was my first art fair, it was a surreal experience to see art in this context. I’m used to the messier side of making it and the anxiety and adrenaline of that headspace. It was nice to meet people who were drawn to the work, especially to images that come from an internal, messy and deeply personal place.

O'Learly Mommy and Me, 2016, 21.5 x 27 inches.jpg

Image: Mommy and Me, from the series Happy Valley, 2016 © Eva O'Leary 

What does your Outset Unseen Exhibition Fund win mean to you as an artist?
It’s encouraging to receive support like this, and motivating, as I’d like to show new pictures. After returning to the US, I started working on a new project I had been circling around for a while.

What have you got lined up in the future? 
I’m currently working on a new project, it’s somewhat of an evolution of this work but it feels very different. I don’t want to say too much, as it’s still in the early stages. The exhibition has encouraged the execution of new ideas and new ways of working.

Header Image: Polar Bears, from the series Happy Valley, 2016 © Eva O'Leary