Ingrid Olson

Ingrid Olson

Tell me a little bit about you!

I am originally from St. Louis, Missouri and am in my last year of the BFA program at University of Wisconsin-Madison. My concentration is in painting and printmaking! Though I have dabbled in various forms of printing, my main focus is lithography. I will always consider myself a painter first but undoubtedly owe much of my artistic development to printing as well. 

My current work seeks to explore the line between tragedy and pure ecstasy. The tragedy of fixed icons, the steadfast nature of objects we interact with yet cannot necessarily alter, and the ecstasy of moving transparencies, manifested as changing, abstracted brushwork and line. I am beginning to work with themes of the "in-between", or a space that we cannot necessarily see or always access, and roadside memorials. Roadside memorials are spaces that are accessible to strangers and voyeurs, their existence is both stagnant and ritualistic while under constant threat of destruction or alteration, both organically and unnaturally. Roadside memorials exist beyond cultural divisions and have personally altered my experience following the loss of my younger brother. About a mile from my family home in St. Louis, Missouri exists a roadside memorial that I not only view everyday, while at home, but actively maintain with others in the community. The "in-between" exists within this space of aliveness and cautionary tales of the departed.

When did you first discover art, or realize you wanted to make it yourself?

I first discovered art in high school, much to the help of my older sister who has always been involved with the arts. My current practice and series began developing about two years ago when I took my first formal painting class at university.

What ideas are you exploring in your practice?

I am exploring memory and emotion through the use of objects and specific imagery as stand ins for people and experiences. I believe that we are unable to separate ourselves from the products/objects we interact with, that these inanimate beings are somehow indicative of our human and personal experience. My work is all very personal, I do not intend to paint anything that I have not, in some way, experienced and "lived through". My practice has been changing over the past six months as I have started using a looser hand and am beginning to value painterly notions over direct reproduction. I am enjoying working with a certain level of freedom in my newer works.

What is your process like?

My process exists when I am documenting, photographing or recording, and manifests as work when I begin to sketch and plan for a painting. To create content I pull from my personal life and experiences, I often go back in time to find moments that somehow resonate in a way that "deserves" to be painted. Pieces typically take around 2 weeks to complete, some are faster and some are slower. I mostly work on a piece to piece basis, but I do see myself working on multiples as time progresses.

Do you have a mentor, or a piece of advice (or both), which has influenced your practice?

Describe your studio.

My studio is in a shared space at my university. The room includes 13 studios for undergraduate painters, to receive one you must apply with a portfolio review at the previous semester.

What do you find most daunting, challenging, or frustrating about pursuing art?

Pursuing art can be incredibly frustrating because of the pressure I put on myself to have some sort of "important" or "necessary" narrative with my work.

If you could sit down for dinner or a drink with anyone, who would it be and what would you chat about?

I would sit down with my younger brother, who passed away about 1.5 years ago, and talk about how to cope and exist.

What are three words you would use to describe your work?

Personal. Indulgent. Hectic

What do you do when you find yourself in a creative rut?

I look into things that I have photographed or notes I have taken and try to form work that is cohesive in some way.

What do you love most about your medium? What challenges or surprises you most about it?

I love oil paint for its ability to be manipulated and pushed via additives or layering. The drying time is challenging as I often try to work for long periods of time but find it difficult to work when things are wet.

What do you need or value most as an artist?

I need a space that I can go to thats only purpose is to be a creative one. I value the way that modern technology has influenced and improved my style of working. I value the ability to turn experience into art.

What keeps you creating?

I keep creating because I keep living. My work is based on experience and as long as I continue to experience the world around me I will continue to create.

What are you working on right now?

I am working on new paintings that fit into my current series but challenge the way in which painting can serve me as a medium.

Find more at ingrid-olson.com and on Instagram @ingolson!

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