Artist Helen O’Leary was born in County Wexford, Ireland, and studied at the National College of Art and Design in Dublin before coming to the United States to continue her studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (B.F.A., 1987, M.F.A., 1989) and the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. She joined the faculty of the School of Visual Arts at Penn State in 1991 and is currently a Professor of Art there.
She has participated in group exhibitions around the world, including at the National Gallery of Art in Limerick, Ireland; The Butler Gallery, Kilkenny, Ireland, the Glasgow Museum of Art in Scotland; the Scott Pfaffman Gallery in New York City; the Galerie le Petit Port in Leiden, The Netherlands; the Contemporary Arts Centre in Sydney, Australia; and in Shanghai, China. The Zolla/Lieberman Gallery in Chicago; the Michael Gold Gallery in New York City; the Victorian College of the Arts in Melbourne, Australia; The Beverly Art Centre in Chicago; the Sanskriti Foundation in New Delhi, India; the Kerlin Gallery in Dublin, and the Catherine Hammond Gallery in Cork, Ireland, are among the many venues that have mounted solo exhibitions of her work.
Helen O’Leary’s art has been honored with two Pollock-Krasner awards (1989, 1996) and a Joan Mitchell Award for painting and sculpture ((2000); several grants from the Arts Council of Ireland; residencies at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Monaghan, Ireland, and the Fundacion Valparaiso in Almeria, Spain; and most recently both the Culturel Irlandaise and Guggenheim fellowships. She has also been a visiting artist in Ireland, at the National College of Art and Design in Dublin, GMT Galway, and the University of Limerick; in Scotland, at the University of Glasgow; in Australia, at Edith Cowen University in Perth and Victoria College of the Arts in Melbourne; as well as at several universities in the United States.
Long interested in the relationship between language and literature and art, she will be spending her Guggenheim Fellowship term in New York, Paris, and Berlin where she hopes to further explore the texts and letters of Samuel Beckett and shape her material response to them.