Artist: Conor O’Brian
Gallery: Dr. Maxine Merlino Gallery
My artist of the week is Conor O’Brian. He is a student at California state Long Beach. He is about to graduate with his Bachelors in Photography. He grew up nearby in Los Alamitos and has stayed local attending Cal state Long Beach his whole collegiate career. Conor’s father suffers with dementia. Dementia causes his father Michael to live in a haze where nothing is clear to him. He was diagnosed 6 years ago and had shown symptoms over the last 15 years. Connor takes turns with his mother and brother providing care for his father. Connor presented his first exhibit here at Cal State Long Beach named Mentia
Mentia is a video exhibit. This was a single channel exhibit. There are 3 different characters. One serves as the main character and the other 2 are only seen briefly. This video features no dialogue. The video is accompanied with calming melodic music. The video was filmed with natural lighting.
Mentia is a touching piece about a son observing his father. Conor said he made the video to bring awareness of the disease. He also said that he made the video to try to figure what is going on with his father. He said that the video also gives him a different point of view of his father and his condition. Conor said he would like to make a continuation to this series and record his reactions to different things such as music and environment.
Mentia is a beautiful and personal piece. Conor did a great job at presenting his father and the dementia that he suffers from. Due to his father’s condition he does not see properly and can only make out shapes while that is very sad it was what made the video very interesting to me. The whole video you are able to observe a man without him ever knowing the camera is there. It presents such raw and emotional content and it feels like such an honest piece. I also thought it was amazing that Conor and his family took it upon themselves to take care of his father. Conor’s father spent his life helping others when he worked as a special education teacher. Now Conor and his family care for him. Conor accomplished his goal because I had never heard or knew about dementia until I saw his exhibit. Mentia made me think about my grandpa. My grandpa is 83 years old and is still driving and functioning on his own. Mentia made me appreciate how lucky I am that my grandfather at his age is still able to take care of himself. I tip my hat to Conor for stepping up and taking care of his father.