Kean O’Brien (he/they) is a white trans, chronically ill, disabled, artist, educator and academic living between Chicago and Los Angeles. As a multimedia artist working interdisciplinarily between photography, painting, found images, installation and writing, he focuses on the nuance of gendered construction, whiteness, the body as landscape for survival, death, grief and trauma. His academic writing explores the current landscape of higher education from an abolitionist, decolonial lens. He has a longstanding commitment to radical pedagogy, community building and grassroots organizing. He is called upon to approach his work from a place of solidarity with the communities and environments that hold him, to create a sustainable collective for art and writing to thrive in, and aid in the breaking down of the toxic systems leading marginalized bodies, earth and society to global collapse.
Recent writing publications include Home: The Trans Body (FWD: Museum, published by UIC Museum Studies Department and Sister Spit, 2020), Boyle Heights and The Fight Against Gentrification As State Violence (The American Quarterly Journal, published by John Hopkins Press, 2019), The American Culture of Guns and Prisons (FAYN Magazine, 2017), Intersectional Practices (Issues #2. Vol. 2., edited by Sarah Faith Gottesdiener), and Nicole Killian (published by Print Matter, 2016)
Recent and upcoming exhibitions include In.Finite Space (Installation for the City of West Hollywood), Mapping A Genocide (Art Center Highland Park, 2021), Mapping A Genocide (Summer Open with Aperture Foundation at Fotografiska NYC, 2020), Beyond Subjectivity (PhotoLA, 2020), FTM Searching (Czong Institute of Contemporary Art, South Korea, 2019) and UnFunction (Rhode Island Center for Photographic Arts, 2018). In 2018 they attended Marble House Project Artist Residency funded by the National Endowment For The Arts.
He has lectured all over the country, including Emory College (2015), California State University, Long Beach (2015), California College for The Arts (2016), University of Illinois, Chicago (2017), School of the Art Institute of Chicago (2017), National Women's Studies Association Conference (2019), American Studies Association (2019), University of California, Santa Cruz (2019), American University in Beirut, Lebanon (2020), University of Arizona, Tucson (2020).