Brigid O’Kane is internationally known for her award-winning presentations, having been invited to present at numerous events in more than ten different countries. Her research focuses on reconciling the relationship between an industry that mass produces products for consumption and the natural world that sustains life. Professor O’Kane generously shares her knowledge through workshops, seminars, and lectures in various contexts and for diverse audiences. She has written several papers and articles, and most noteworthy of her publications are eight peer-reviewed papers on design and a chapter in the book ‘Design and Designing, A Critical Introduction.’ She holds degrees in Graphic Communication Design from Macomb College, a Bachelor of Fine Art in Industrial Design from College for Creative Studies, and a Master of Fine Art in drawing from University of Cincinnati.
After graduating from College for Creative Studies with a focus in transportation design, Brigid O’Kane went to General Motors (GM) as a Senior Lead Creative Designer. During her more than ten years of professional experience in the industry she worked on several production and concept vehicles for brands including Cadillac, Oldsmobile, and Chevrolet. She also worked at the GM Advanced Concept Center in California developing running prototypes of advanced concept vehicles. In 1998 she received the distinguished Award of Excellence for Outstanding Creativity and Leadership at GM. Although this career path was extremely rewarding, Brigid left the industry and began a philosophical journey of inquiry that relates to seeing and interpreting the world in meaningful ways so we are able to make better decisions about what we do in life. ‘Deep seeing’ enables us to create and design in ways that align with the existing life systems on Earth.
After extended traveling experience across the United States Professor O’Kane came to the University of Cincinnati in 2000 to teach within the School of Design and to continue her scholarly investigation. As a tenured faculty she was responsible for many curricular developments, updates, and improvements relating to design and drawing. Through her teaching efforts she has received numerous awards including Professor of the Year Award in 2007, Dean’s Recognition Award for Outstanding Achievements in 2007, Distinguished PACE Integrator Award in 2011, DesignIntellegence national recognition for one of the 30 Most Admired Educators in 2014, and the Special Dean’s Recognition Award in 2016. During the academic year of 2016-17 Professor O’Kane was awarded a paid sabbatical to continue her creative art and writing.
In 2004, Brigid O’Kane co-founded Manifest Creative Research Gallery and Drawing Center, a non-profit arts organization located in Cincinnati Ohio. This highly successful organization is dedicated to creating, exploring, presenting, and documenting visual art and design from around the world. Now in its 15th season, Manifest has established an international reputation within the arts and design communities. Professor O’Kane continues to serve on Manifest’s Board of Directors and remains actively involved with Manifest’s exhibitions, publications, and overall activities. She also teaches Drawing as Mindfulness at Manifest’s Drawing Center, where participants explore how being in ‘the studio’ is like being in an ancient old-growth forest, or prehistoric cave—allowing for the dissolving of assumed barriers between what one believes about oneself relative to ‘art’ and how one processes the reality of being an individual in the world.
Professor O’Kane is currently working on a book titled ‘Drawing: The Root of Seeing.’ With this she merges her noteworthy experience in the design industry, her interest in Fine Art and culture, and her expertise in the academic arena of art and design education. She brings the promise of an open mind and a broadly informed view of what it means to be a creative contributor in a world currently dominated by science and technology.
Brigid currently lives in Cincinnati Ohio with her husband Jason Franz and daughter Alexandra Franz.