Language begins as the primary subject of O’Connell’s paintings. A range of influences inspires the artist; from James Joyce’s Ulysses to the aesthetics of medieval illuminated manuscripts. O'Connell also explores the unintelligible speech of glossolalia or speaking in tongues. For the artist, this is understood as "beyond reason." O’Connell often initiates her painting process with a large stencil letter. She then works instinctively adding random marks and clusters of fragmented letters, and using disruptive techniques such as collage. The artist states that the resulting paintings “represent freedom of choice in an indeterminate world, and opens possibilities otherwise smothered by calculation.”
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.