Alex O’Neal's mixed media work presents personal shrines and memorials that refer to places, phrases, and objects that have inspired and idiosyncratically informed him. Wreaths, words made of flowers, award ribbons, sashes, clock faces, alpine thistles, heaps of ice cream, and zigzags representing migraine auras appear in cluttered arrangements and often behind veils and bars that protect and/or jail them.
In residence, O’Neal completed mixed media paintings that present such idiosyncratic shrines and memorials. His work presents inventories of inspirations that include folk art genres, such as early American mourning art, and a talismanic Pyrenean thistle flower.
Born and raised in Mississippi, the artist's art school education overlapped regular visits with African-American self-taught artists of his home state. Other important influences are Catalan Romanesque fresco, art brut, and early American mourning scenes produced by New England school girls.
O'Neal's drawings and paintings have been shown at The Drawing Center, New York; BRIC, Brooklyn; P.S.122, New York; Johnson Museum of Art, Ithaca, NY; Woodruff Arts Center, Atlanta; Mississippi Museum of Art, Jackson, MS; Centre d’Art des Pénitents Noirs, Aubagne, France; Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans; Huntsville Museum of Art, AL; Rockefeller Art Center, SUNY Fredonia; Field Projects, New York; and Linda Warren Projects, Chicago. He has been awarded fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, New York Foundation for the Arts, and National Endowment for the Arts. O'Neal lives and works in Cooperstown, NY.