Hilda O’Connell was born in 1934 in New York to Irish immigrant parents, and eventually left the Bronx to attend the Pratt Institute, where she studied with her future mentor Jack Tworkov, and received her BFA. After graduating from Pratt, O’Connell moved to a loft on East 10th Street, which housed the studios of Willem de Kooning, Milton Resnick and Esteban Vincente. Wishing to develop not only her skills as a painter but also deepen her knowledge about the world of art, she enrolled as an art history major at New York University, and later received a scholarship to Yale where she completed her MFA.
O’Connell’s canvases illuminate her research and interests in language and alphabets from prehistoric, Oriental, Hebraic, Islamic and graffiti. Her process is to create an improvisational dialogue within the medium, using the palimpsest technique, a form of overwriting she employs in which traces of marks are superimposed over a cluster of random letters, creating a field of linguistic frag-ments and calligraphic notations which represent a wordless lan-guage. O’Connells’s paintings engage the viewer in the same way an archeological dig makes one wonder about the meaning of the objects and the language and its deeper essence.
She has exhibited in both group and solo shows, andhas also been the recipient of awards and grants from several organizations, including Yale University. In addition to teaching art and art history, she has worked as a Project Director for Public Art Projects with a number of institutions.