Phil O’Malley: Appropriated Voyeurism

WELCOME to the Indy Arts Studio Series, where you will find behind-the-scenes information such as raw footage from conversations with featured artists, details about artwork development, artist bios, the show at-a-glance, and other details about the exhibitions in Gallery 924 at the Arts Council.

Appropriated Voyeurism

Gallery 924 
September 2 – 30, 2016

Gallery 924 presents Appropriated Voyeurism, an interactive, multimedia installation by Indianapolis based artist Phil O’Malley. The abundance and immediacy of images has become overwhelming at times as it floods all aspects of contemporary life. Photos, videos, social media posts, advertisements, graphics, and logos dominate our view while clouding the lines between what is public and private. After mining our last century’s tour of imagery, Appropriated Voyeurism exploits image inundation while exploring the instigation of our accidental exhibitionism. If you have posted something online, it might be in this exhibition.

Prior to the exhibition’s opening, the Arts Council visited Phil O’Malley’s studio and spoke with him about his artistic process and the creation of Appropriated Voyeurism.

How did you come to be an artist?


“I’ve always been an artist.”

Phil O’Malley, a professional studio artist and designer, was born in Massachusetts and has spent the past four decades painting in the
Midwest. He started out taking art classes as an early age when his scientist father, who was very supportive of arts education, signed him up for extracurricular classes at local art centers and museums.

After making his way to Indiana, O’Malley studied at Notre Dame and IUPUI. During his studies, he took as many design and fundamental studio courses as possible. He says he “wanted to know everything.” He was especially interested in learning about graphic design, because he saw working as a designer as a means to support his fine art career.

“I’ve always worked in order to pay for my addiction to making art.”

O’Malley has created two- and three-dimensional works in fine art, culinary art, interior design, architectural design, graphic design, and event design. He says that he spent a lot of time “over a stove,” but his artistic skills have lent themselves to different jobs he has held, and vice versa. For example, after learning how to decorate cakes, he began using spatulas and squirt bottles in his painting.

He has noticed his work is more effective when he is not concerned with artwork sales. O’Malley believes most artworks have more integrity when artists simply create something that interests them, but he acknowledges that most artists have to do a mixture of creating for themselves and making art for the market.

“The reason somebody hasn’t bought a painting is because the person who loves it hasn’t seen it yet.”


Over the course of your career, you have worked with many different materials and in many different styles. How has your process changed throughout time?


“Okay, everybody get out of the way! Here comes Phil with his big canvas and his big brushes.”

O’Malley says that starting at a young age, he has developed his own style. Through his extracurricular classes, the artist was taught by various instructors who influenced his work. He first learned to paint in the traditional, representational style.

One of O’Malley’s early instructors recognized his innate, more expressive style of painting, and encouraged him to begin painting in his own style. O’Malley attributes his dynamic abilities to supportive instructors who also imbued a strong training in the formal characteristics of painting.

“Over the years I have found that often many people will think because an artist is working in many different styles, that they just haven’t found their direction.”

O’Malley feels that focusing on something or being repetitive makes his work become manufactured. He enjoys the exploratory process to find out how he wants to approach a concept or material. O’Malley says that he needs to continue evolving and that the concept decides which style and execution method he will take. He believes that this evolution will keep his work fresh and stresses the importance of his work not becoming “similar to a factory doing furniture.”

“To me, art is an extension of thought…of human experience.”


 For Appropriated Voyeurism at Gallery 924, you are doing a multimedia installation. Can you explain the different media you are using? What is the concept that ties this all together?


Within Gallery 924, O’Malley showcases his diverse skill set through incorporating paintings, collage, and sound and light design into an installation he is calling Appropriated Voyeurism. He uses his interior design skills to transform the gallery into a venue filled with upcycled architectural features, collages, and a curvilinear, multimedia “painting” that serves as an interactive centerpiece. 

O’Malley has appropriated over 7,000 images from a large magazine collection given to him by his father. After searching through nearly 100 years worth of images, the artist became inspired to create a piece about how images and information have come to infiltrate nearly every aspect of contemporary life. 

“This is all about image inundation.”

To get his point across, that technology has rapidly increased our consumption of images and information, O’Malley has created an overwhelmingly colorful, two-sided painting that was created on 50-foot-long sheet of clear vinyl. Combined with lighting, polyphonic sounds, and a frenetic loop of images on 6 television screens, the central component of Appropriated Voyeurism floods the viewer with visual and auditory information.

“It’s really exciting to make a painting that is a pictorial representation of that experience.” 


For More Information:

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Gallery 924 is open Monday – Friday from 9 am – 5 pm.  Thursdays from 9 am – 6 pm.