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8 Female Artists to Collect and Admire, According to Famed Mod Collagist Kelly O’Connor

By Kelly O’Connor

As a creator and a curator in both my personal and professional life, I am constantly immersed in the visual arts. Ever since I can remember, I have been fascinated by the rebels in art history, and the study of the women who were the movement-makers in modern art. If you are a mutually kindred old-soul who is intrigued by mid-century mystery and the magic of mod, here are a few women whose works are sure to light your fire. Their artistic styles span from quirky and classic to curious and contemporary. If you are from San Antonio, you might even recognize a few favorite works from our own backyard…

Hannah Höch

Hannah Höch, Strauss, 1929-1965 Collage on paper Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nïrnberg. Photo: Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nïrnbe

Höch is regarded as a rare female artist who significantly contributed to the Dada and Surrealist movements in art history. Her darkly playful collages are an example of how artists have been appropriating images for the past 100 years.

Martha Rosler

Martha Rosler, courtesy of the artist and Mitchell-Innes & Nash, NY. Digital Image; The Museum of Modern Art/Licensed by SCALA / Art Resource, NY

I was first introduced to Rosler’s feminist collages by collector, Linda Pace. She had just acquired a work titled Jumping Janes that depicts an army of Jane Fonda cutouts dancing over an idealistic landscape in cult classic aerobic positions.

Polly Apfelbaum

Evergreen Blue Shoes, Burlington City Arts, Burlington, VT April 18 – June 7

Apfelbaum’s work is as bizarre and delightful as her name. What I am most drawn to is her site-specific installations that bridge the gap between painting and sculpture. Her seemingly crafty materials of glitter and felt feel familiar, foreign and effortless – yet perfectly executed.

Ghada Amer

Ghada Amer

Amer’s aesthetically beautiful embroidered paintings often depict erotic scenes appropriated from pornography. The Egyptian-born painter takes many of society’s imposed conventions on women and confronts their significance.

Barbara Minarro

Barbara Minarro

A 20 something native of Monterrey Mexico living in Texas who has made her mark on the San Antonio art scene. With participation in important exhibitions at Artpace, Sala Diaz and Clamp Light, Minarro is creating awareness of issues dealing with the body and migration through her soft sculptures and textile installations.

Laurie Simmons

Laurie Simmons

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Before her somewhat recent notoriety as actor Lena Dunham’s mom, Simmons gained attention as a photographer in the New York art scene. My favorite of her works are anthropomorphic feminine objects. They are simple yet familiar, and always thought-provoking in their juxtaposition.

Leigh Merrill

Leigh Merrill

Merrill’s surrealist landscapes are a combination of photography and digital collage. On the façade they feel familiar, however, the layers of artistic manipulation run deep. Her masterful mimicry constantly keeps me coming back for more.

Anna Gaskell

2018 The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation

Gaskell’s staged photography will fulfill all of the wonder and uneasiness you sensed from Alice in Wonderland. She often creates ominous scenes that depict ambiguous interactions among pre-pubescent young girls.

Kelly O’Connor


Famed for her Mod collages, San Antonio-born visual artist Kelly O”Connor began her career as Linda Pace’s Studio Manager. She currently is the Head of Collections & Communications for the Linda Pace Foundation. In 2017 she oversaw the Foundation’s rebranding and identity shift to Ruby City, a contemporary art center. O’Connor’s artwork can be seen in the McNay Art Museum’s permanent collection as well as a 36-foot mural in the newly renovated Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center. She was recently accepted to UTSA’s School of Business to complete an Executive MBA degree. Outside of the office and her art studio, she enjoys chasing her two toddlers and is a Crossfit enthusiast. Connect with O’Connor on Instagram @kellyoconnor_art.

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