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3/9-4/27 2024


Opening Reception: 3/9 6-9 pm with artist talk 7:30-8:30 pm


Cleo the Project Space is pleased to present ‘Water Features’ with work by Danni O’Brien and Kevin Kao. This exhibition fixates around queering the iconography and materials found in typical American lawn ornamentation.


Danni O’Brien’s work features assemblages of readymade objects that they scavenge in order to inform the item’s final structure. Driven by the insatiability of capitalism and the resulting refuse it accumulates in its hunger, O’Brien’s practice recontextualizes this refuse under the banner of queer identity in their irreverence. The materials for this newest body of work include water hose attachments, gourds, and commodified replicas of the natural world. Through the processes of combination, wax casting, and manipulation of color O’Brien exacerbates the nature of plastic materiality against its organic foil. The resulting assemblages exhibit both precarity and absurdity and bask in the amusement of their original function. 


With a similar obsession to exploring and exploiting materiality, Kevin Kao creates through a clay perspective. Embracing the history of ceramics within Chinese culture, Kao molds figures that capture reflections of character and queers their final forms in that command. This vein of working runs through his present body of work as the yellow clay figures are bodily gestures, both recognizable and not, that explore the larger themes of sensuality and race through the artist's gaze. These works are re-interpretations of typical lawn decoration like statuettes of trite garden adornments, satisfying the individual quirks of the purchaser. Using this route of recontextualization Kao generates a nuanced vision of American iconography full of conflicting ideals in their otherness. 


Danni O’Brien is an interdisciplinary artist based in Baltimore, Maryland and Central Kansas. They have previously exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art Arlington, Asya Geisberg Gallery, Tephra Institute for Contemporary Art, Pazo Fine Art, and the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art, among others. They have been awarded residencies with PLOP, The Wassaic Project, Proyecto Ace, Art Farm, Baltimore Clayworks, Red Lodge Clay Center, Azule, and the Maple Terrace. They are the recipient of a 2022 Individual Artist Grant from the Belle Foundation for Cultural Development. Most recently they are exhibiting a solo show in New York with Ortega y Gasset Projects and are an artist in residence at Furman University in Greenville, SC. / @danni_obrien_art


Kevin Kao is an artist and educator based in Greenville, SC. He has previously exhibited at Blue Spiral 1 in  Asheville, NC, Swan Coach House Gallery in Atlanta, GA, Atlanta Contemporary Museum, Greenway Public Art Projects, Charleston, SC, and Kranzberg Art Foundation in Saint Louis, MO. He is currently a member of Tiger Strikes Asteroid Greenville and an Assistant Professor of Fine Art at Furman University. / @kevinrkao

Photos by Jasmine Hsu

List of Works

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