Since 1985, the Blackboard Series has been the predominant form of John O’Connor’s art. This series grew out of the work he produced in the early 1970s. During that time the impulse that led to the Blackboard Series was largely undeveloped and unrecognizable. Art has a peculiar way of telling an artist something that they may not understand for many years.
The Blackboard Series imagery originated from John’s classroom experiences as a student and then as an artist-teacher. In 1963 John became interested in the idea of how natural processes could contribute to the making a artwork. The Blackboard Series are created by using these kinds of processes. The process of erasing and moving borders becomes a history lesson: a history of the creating itself. Wiping out and covering up images or messages goes far beyond the creative processes its self. This process raises significant questions: "What is covered up? Why? What is missing?"
In his Blackboard Series O’Connor invites the viewer to question the nature of reality itself. All of his blackboards are formed by using acrylic paints on wood board or Sintra. There are no collages in this work. However, John highly admires the trompe l’oeil masters of the past and believes that his own work has evolved primarily as a result of the influences found in the works of William T. Wiley, Jasper Johns, and particularly Marcel Duchamp.