Architecture professor’s exhibit opens at Rasdall



By Joy Priest

One UK professor feels artists should never stay in one lane.

Mark O’Bryan, associate dean for design in the College of Architecture,  is a painter, a sketcher and a photographer, but all of those crafts contribute to his ultimate design process and dream as an architect.

Monday night saw the opening of his exhibit “The World Dwelling” in the Rasdall Gallery, which showcased his paintings, sketches, models and existing work, with some pieces dating back to his thesis project at Cornell University in the 1980s.

Shannon Ruhl, the Cultural Arts director for the Student Activities Board and organizer for the ongoing Rasdall Gallery exhibition series, said she had O’Bryan as a design studio professor in Fall 2010 and saw the “high-quality work he creates” firsthand.

“He kind of generates from intuition, so his art and his artwork are very integrated,” Ruhl said. “He makes models, and he draws and he photographs, so he can bring them all into one design process or project.”

Ruhl said it was important to showcase O’Bryan’s work on campus because he uses more traditional methods, yet still produces beautiful things.

“I’m studying architecture, so I’ve picked up the importance of working physically and indirectly through drawing models and letting them speak for themselves, but still knowing they’re in the pursuit of architecture,” Ruhl said.

“It’s important to see not only what the faculty has done, but what he has done in his field. He is teaching architecture and practicing architecture, but so much more goes into his work. Students will appreciate his interdisciplinary approach.”

O’Bryan, who received his undergraduate degree in Fine Arts at UK and his master’s in architecture from Cornell University, has been at UK since the late 1980s. He said the ability to draw and sketch is imperative for an architect, and something he trains his students to do immediately.

“That’s one thing we do … that we love to do to represent things,” O’Bryan said about drawing. “The ability to train yourself to draw, to see things through drawing — because we are visual learners — to be able to quickly draw by hand is an important ability.”

Although O’Bryan uses traditional methods, like hand sketching, much more frequently than current architecture students, he describes his architecture style as “modern.”

“I think it has to do with how you were educated, (your education) forms your entire career,” he said.

O’Bryan said the photography, painting and drawing hobbies were something he always nurtured, and are skills that now contribute to his design process as a whole.

“It’s something that I just do,” he said. “It’s part of my whole work habit. My whole life is around making things, whether it’s a design project for students or something for a client.”

O’Bryan’s desire to constantly “make things” is reflected in a piece in the exhibit that shows the work he did on his own personal residence, along with his wife, who is an interior designer.

This piece and more can be viewed at Rasdall Gallery through Nov 9, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. O’Bryan and his wife’s work can be viewed at