Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Art Space Talk: Kathie Olivas

Kathie Olivas is a multi-media artist who resides in Tampa, FL. Her work has been featured in numerous solo and group exhibitions across the nation. Inspired by early American portraiture that often depicted children as small adults in an idealized new land, the characters parallel this vision within their own sense of post-apocalyptic conformity, uniquely documenting their own stories in a mysterious brave new world.

The Candyman - Oil on canvas - 16 x 20"

Brian Sherwin: Kathie, your series, 'Misery Children' has raised more than a few brows. These images focus on the constant social desire to assign "cuteness". However, your cute 'children' are also dangerous. Thus, these images are a psychological play on what we, as a society, expect- with a twist. Why did you decide to challenge social stereotypes in this manner?

Kathie Olivas: All of the characters are dichotomies of both good and evil. Your perceptions that they could be dangerous are your personal projections. Cuteness as an ideal is based on projected innocence, not an actual definition. I try to use symbology in the storytelling as well, often incorporating specific animals or animal forms and costumes. Each of the animal suits represent some form of defense mechanism so they are often misleading or contradictory in terms of the actual persona of each character-- I like to leave that interpretation up to the viewer.

BS: Would you say that your work serves as a warning? A social message that begs the viewer to step back and to observe the world from a different perspective?

KO: The storyline is rooted in a post-apocalyptic environment; so that would be "yes".
Blue Bear Boy - Oil on canvas - 18 x 24"

BS: Kathie, why did you decide to enter the low-brow/pop-surrealism scene... or did it enter you, so to speak?

KO: I started exhibiting over a dozen years ago and wasn't really familiar with the term "lowbrow." I was just showing in contemporary galleries. I met my husband in 2000 and he introduced me to Juxtapoz Magazine and started encouraging me to start showing on the West Coast. My work just sort of fit, but I've always thought of Lowbrow as being a very West Coast movement so I guess I still feel a bit like an outsider.

BS: Can you discuss your influences? Have certain events or individuals influenced your art?

KO: I'm influenced more by a strange mix of mostly politics, world events, the environment and early American Portraiture then things from my childhood like anything Disney, vintage illustration, antique dolls, etc. My husband is a big influence on my work, we go back and forth for hours talking about ideas. Also our good friends, Sas and Colin Christian have been really pushing me. You just look at their work and it makes you want to be a better artist.
The Narcissist - Oil on canvs - 30 x 40"

BS: Kathie, describe your average studio session. What helps you to get 'in the mood'... do you have a certain routine? What kind of music do you listen to while you work? Our readers want to know- what is it like to be in the studio with Kathie Olivas?

KO: There is no session, so to speak-- I'm always working. Occasionally I leave the house-- but if I'm home; I've usually got a paintbrush or pencil in hand. I usually have a tv on-- any sort of background noise; I tend to like the History channel.

BS: Where did you study art? Who were your mentors?

KO: I went to the University of South Florida where I took every possible class in art studio, art history, traditional history, psychology, sociology, criminology, philosophy, etc, etc. My printmaking professor Brad Shanks and my painting professor Mernet Larson played pretty significant roles in the direction I would take with my work.
The Inheritance - Oil on wood - 12 x 24"

BS: You are known for collaborating with Brandt Peters. Have you collaborated with other artists as well? Also, how do you find balance when collaborating in this manner? Do you ever have creative differences... if so, how do you handle it? I'll assume that collaborating is not for everyone.

KO: I have collaborated with a few other artists, but I'll decline to comment on those. I only collaborate with my husband at this point. There are a few other artists that I think would be good to work with, then common sense kicks in and I remind myself how much of a control freak I am.

BS: Kathie, you have current solo exhibition at the Copro Nason Gallery. The show is titled, "Ghosts & Martyrs", can you give our readers some insight into this exhibit? Are you revealing new work?

KO: All new work; I rarely show the same work more than once. It is a continuation of Misery Children series that I have been working on for several years. I've been introducing more "artificial/ mechanical" elements and older children as well. This is my first show with primarily large paintings.
Veruca Salt - Oil on Canvas - 18 x 24"

BS: Kathie, do you have any suggestions or advice for artists just starting out?

KO: Spend less time talking about what you want to do and just do it. You'll go through hundreds of bad paintings/drawings before you make something worth keeping which you'll eventually look back on and wish you had thrown away. Also try to find your voice and be sure you have something to say otherwise you are just making pretty pictures.

You can learn more about Kathie Olivas and her art by visiting her website: www.kathieolivas.com. You can read more interviews by visiting- www.myartspace.com/interviews
Take care, Stay true,
Brian Sherwin

1 comment:

smallestman said...