O’Connell convenes and lectures in Visual and Art History at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. She has curated several exhibitions that have all garnered significant media attention, and uses the exhibition to rethink knowledge production in, and of, Africa. Her most recent achievement is the production of a 44-minute film on the local clothing and textile industry that made its debut on the Encounters Film Festival in June 2014. In addition, she recently edited a book on poetry and photographs of the renowned South African poet, James Matthews which included translations into Xhosa and Afrikaans.
O’Connell is committed to questions of restorative justice and freedom in postcolonial and postapartheid South Africa, looking to creative endeavours to think about difficult questions of belongs, violence and redress. Her work around archives and curation seeks to shift frames from aesthetics to restorative justice to open up questions around representation, freedom, trauma and memory in the aftermath of oppression.