Oral history interview with Harold O'Connor, 2007 October 11-31
O'Connor, Harold, 1941-
Zeiger, Dinah, 1947-
Jensen, Georg Arthur
Alberta College of Art + Design
Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America
Penland School of Crafts
University of New Mexico
Western State College of Colorado
Place of publication, production, or execution:
Transcript: 63 pages.
Originally recorded on 4 sound discs. Reformated in 2010 as 4 digital wav files. Duration is 3 hrs., 5 min.
Access Note / Rights:
Transcript available on the Archives of American Art website.
An interview of Harold O'Connor conducted 2007 October 11 and 31, by Dinah Zeiger, for the Archives of American Art's Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America, at O'Conner's studio, Dunconor Workshops, in Salida, Colorado.
O'Connor speaks of his childhood in New York; his father, who was a doctor, and his mother, who was a craft artist; an early exposure to the craft field; attending Western State College in Gunnison, Colorado and studying psychology for one year before returning to Rochester, N.Y.; working in occupational therapy and making commercial apple-peeling machines; returning to WSU, becoming interested in anthropology and transferring to the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque; taking classes in metalwork during his senior year; being inspired by Georg Jensen; attending international schools to learn metalsmithing and goldsmithing, including the National Arts and Crafts School in Copenhagen, Denmark, the National Arts School in Helsinki, Finland, and Kunst und Werkschule in Pforzheim, Germany; the differences between apprenticeship programs and technical schools; working as the first resident metal craftsman at Penland School of Crafts in Penland, N.C.; moving with his wife to Crested Butte, Colorado and setting up a small studio in an alley; returning to UNM to complete his undergraduate degree before attending Instituto Allende in San Miguel Allende, Mexico and receiving his M.F.A.; teaching jewelry for four years at Alberta College of Art and Design at Calgary, Canada and designing workshops; returning to Crested Butte and running his own private school and two-week workshops; identifying as an international artist; his exhibition and show history; his relationship with galleries; self-publishing jewelry and metalsmithing technique books; working in series; finding inspiration through various means and the great diversity in his work over the past 30 years; the materials he has worked in over the years, including labradorite, silver, copper, titanium, and gold; his use of traditional hand tools; his studio space; working intuitively without drawings; the creative stimulation found in Taos, N.M.; his admiration of the work of Eduardo Chillida, Aldo Calò, Constantin Brancusi and Isamu Noguchi; traveling and teaching experiences in the Czech Republic, Austria, the Arctic, South Korea, and other locations; and plans for future travel. O'Connor recalls Klaus Ulrich, Reinhold Reiling, and others.
Quotes and excerpts must be cited as follows: Oral history interview with Harold O'Connor, 2007 October 11-31. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Funding for this interview was provided by the Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America. Funding for the digital preservation of this interview was provided by a grant from the Save America's Treasures Program of the National Park Service.
Harold O'Connor (1941- ) is a goldsmith in Salida, Colorado. Dinah Zeiger (1947- ) is an art historian from Denver, Colorado.
This interview is part of the Archives of American Art Oral History Program, started in 1958 to document the history of the visual arts in the United States, primarily through interviews with artists, historians, dealers, critics and administrators.
Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, 750 9th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20001