National Lakeshore presents artist-in-residence O’Brien

From staff reports

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore welcomes the September artist-in-residence for 2015; Cara O’Brien, a Michigan artist currently working and living in Whitehall, Michigan. O’Brien’s work explores the possibilities of high fire porcelain clay, driftwood, aged metal, and other objects. Her mixed media works are constructed from numerous individual porcelain components combined with altered wood or metal. Through the process of creating these wall sculptures, she transforms the handmade and wood and metal into something that suggests growth, change, and life from decay. O’Brien will offer a free workshop on Saturday, Sept. 12 at 2 p.m. at the Dechow Farm in Port Oneida.

O’Brien’s work begins with creating organically shaped individual porcelain components. She makes many varieties of forms, from tentacle-like to petal-ish, and gives them textures that range from smooth to rough, random to patterned. She brings various materials, textures, and forms together and creates sculptures in which all of the individual parts blend together to make the entire piece purposeful and seamless.

On Sept. 12, O’Brien will present a hands-on workshop on how she creates her pieces and decides what to do with the various materials. Workshop attendees will make porcelain pieces that O’Brien will then fire and incorporate into the piece of art she will donate to the park. This one and a half-hour workshop is free, open to the public, and will take place in Port Oneida at the Dechow farmhouse on M-22, four miles north of Glen Arbor on the south side of the highway.

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore has sponsored the AIR program since 1993. The AIR opportunity is open, through competition, to American writers, composers, and visual artists whose work can be influenced and enhanced by the outstanding features that are protected by the National Park Service and enjoyed by millions of visitors year after year. In exchange for the opportunity to live in the park for a short period, Artists-In-Residence donate an original piece of art to the park, interact with visitors while conducting their craft, and offer at least one public presentation of their work in a formal setting. There are only two sessions (September and October) available each year. For more details, please visit