heathermobrien (at) gmail (dot) com

heather m. o'brien is an artist, filmmaker, and assistant professor of cinema & interdisciplinary media in the college of arts & media at southern illinois university. her work builds encounters with familial archives, constructs of nationhood, and the illusion of accurate memory. research interests include expanded cinema, photographic histories, and the contemporary essay film.

o’brien’s recent projects include dyad gaze, a film about longing and belonging in beirut, lebanon, opia (with jonathan takahashi), a researched-based collaboration rooted in the family archive that reveals the inaccuracies of visual representation, and like the delayed rays of a star, a photographic installation and monograph that unpacks the post-lebanese civil war image landscape while confronting the complicated emotions that arise when we look intently at the place we call home.

her work has been exhibited and presented in an array of educational institutions, museums, galleries, and conferences such as san francisco camerawork, the university art galleries at uc irvine, sursock museum beirut, the society for photographic education conference, the geffen contemporary at moca los angeles, baxter st. at the camera club of new york, beirut art center, kw institute for contemporary art berlin, the photographic center northwest, the western political science association conference, the center for photography at woodstock, and parsons/the new school new york.

she has been awarded residencies with the lower manhattan cultural council, santa fe art institute, marble house project, baxter st. at the camera club of new york, women's studio workshop, woodstock byrdcliffe guild, sommerakademie paul klee, the jamaica center for arts and learning new york, and the robert rauschenberg foundation.

from 2016-2021 o'brien was assistant professor of studio arts in the department of fine arts and art history at the american university of beirut. o'brien has also held faculty positions at california state university long beach, and moorpark and citrus community colleges in california. her projects have been featured in numerous publications including the new york times, conveyor magazine, hyperallergic, evergreen review, humble arts foundation, and the los angeles review of books. she has received grants from the mellon foundation, csu long beach, the feminist center for creative work los angeles, and the american university of beirut research board.

o'brien received an mfa from california institute of the arts, a ba from loyola university new orleans, and a director's fellowship from the creative practices program at the international center of photography new york. she currently lives and works between the US and beirut, lebanon.

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