Artist: Connor O’Brien
Media: Video, Photography
Gallery: CSULB School of Art, Dr. Maxine Merlino Gallery
About the Artist
Connor O’Brien is a student at the California State University of Long Beach. He is currently in his last semester with the school, and plans to graduate very soon. Connor is majoring in photography, and this gallery is the final assignment he needs to do in order to graduate. Connor is originally from Los Alamitos, which is relatively close to Long Beach. He enjoys studio photography and loves music. With this gallery, he is trying to highlight something that is very personal in his life. His father, Michael, was diagnosed with dementia six years ago. After that, Connor’s life changed along with that of his family. With this gallery, Connor allows us to take a look into his personal life and go with him on a truly inspirational journey.
Connor’s gallery, Mentia, is actually quite simple. When you first walk into it, you notice that there is a projection in the middle of the walls. The room is dimly lit, so viewing the projection is very easy. A video begins to play and you notice that the camera is always pointed on Connor’s dad, Michael. This video shows Connor and his brother taking care of their father, who has dementia. The video shows how they need to help their father do a lot of things. It shows them helping their father get out of bed and walk. It also shows them helping their father shower. They also need to help get their father out of his clothes and put him into a new pair. The video also has very happy points though, which are most evident when you can see his father smiling.
Life changed a lot for Connor and his family when his father was diagnosed with dementia. Despite being diagnosed for only six years, his father had shown symptoms of dementia fifteen years prior to that. Connor and his family did not notice it though, as they just thought that was how his father was. Now, Connor, his brother, and his mother each take turns watching over their dad. They also have a caregiver that helps them every once in a while, but Connor feels that it is his responsibility to watch over his father. Connor desribed it as a hard transition when his father was diagnosed. Prior to that, his father had a mental breakdown and threatened his life. It was then that they took Connor’s father to a mental institution and found out that he had dementia. With his gallery, Connor is trying to bring awareness and documentation to the illness known as dementia.
Personally, I enjoyed Connor’s video a lot. I’ve read and heard about dementia, but I never really knew what it was like until I watched Connor’s video. I still do not know what it truly is, but now I am more aware. I would say that his watching his video was truly an emotional experience. I found that I could not keep my eyes off of the video, even when it had replayed. To be honest, I felt really sorry for his father. I think it is sad to see anyone like that. Overall, the mood was very somber and melancholy. Despite this, I also found some happiness from the video. The parts where Connor’s father smiled during the video were truly beautiful and heart warming. The whole thing just kind of makes me realize how much you should cherish the people around you. Connor’s gallery was a very touching and emotional experience. It was beautifully put together, and I truly wish the best to his family and his father.