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I dedicate my practice to the people who feel they never belonged...

My art story began as early as I can remember. I was always artistically inclined as a child but I was not particularly gifted in any way. In fact, I struggled a lot in school with my numerous learning disabilities.

I was illiterate until my teenage years, so I slipped into daydreams most of my young life. My family also moved around a lot, this was inspiring and exposed me to many different cultures, it was also overwhelming and I developed dissociative behaviors that followed me into adulthood. I was very fortunate that I was exposed to oil painting when I was just 16, a time in my life that was steeped in drug abuse. It wasn’t my plan to study art in college, I was hoping to study psychology. I didn’t go to art school, but I eventually earned my BA in fine art from Warren Wilson College in North Carolina.

After school, I gave up on art entirely for a few years. In part, because I didn’t have any encouragement to pursue art as a career, and I just didn’t see how it was possible.

It wasn’t until a few years later, while I was living in Denver and working a sales career, that I started painting again. I was inspired from my travels abroad and decided to seek out a mentor. Jack Shure is a talented Boulder based artist who was kind enough to teach me how to use my materials, I couldn’t believe all the basic techniques I was never taught in school.

That was 7 years ago now, I’m very much in the thick of my art journey still, more gets revealed all the time. I have been doing art full-time for 5 years, nearly 3 of those years I was backpacking around the world, painting murals. So I am always learning and growing humbly in this pursuit.

I am most inspired by the people in my life, most of my paintings are inspired by my friends. I have been drawn to therianthropic imagery since I can remember. Examples of this would be the Ancient Egyptian Gods or “The Sorcerer” cave painting from France around 13,000 BCE. There seems to be a theme, as old as our species, for humans to explore supernatural realms, and depict humanoid figures with elements from other animals. Through my relationship to land, I am inspired to depict figures who have a story in a landscape of their own. Deities reveal themselves as a compilation of the places I’ve been and emotions felt. I work closely with death motifs, this is a taboo in much of North American society that does not serve us. I believe that if we were more aware of our mortality, we would live more truly. If death wasn’t so taboo, we might have more rituals supporting the grieving process. Death is an intrinsic part of life.

The third and very important part of my “why” is that I make femme centered art. I am a femme, I am a feminist, I believe that everyone deserves equal opportunity no matter their gender, sexual orientation, race/nationality or social/economic status. I also believe that we live on a planet, where thanks to science, and innovation, we COULD live in relative peace with support for all and yet our climate is in peril and we are far from peace on earth, because of greed and corruption. It is a wild time to be alive, it always has been, but now we have this greater existential threat. This threat to our mother earth, is mirrored in our treatment of the femme in society. I depict nudity in much of my work, because until we (as a society) desexualize femme bodies, femme bodies will never be safe to simply exist without being sexualized. This has to be taught early on but can be learned at any point through practice and unlearning. I dedicate my practice to womxn, to survivors of sexual abuse and violence.

I dedicate my practice to the people who feel they never belonged, but might be able, through love, to find a home in their own body and community. I dedicate my practice to the great unknown, for the awe I have for life, taking comfort in the mystery of it all and not needing to know. All of this is what keeps me pushing forward, it is my wish that my work asks the viewer for a moment of depth and reflection in this chaotic world. I’ve learned along the way, that the best thing you can do for your work, is stay true to your “why”, even if your “why” changes over time. Just know, it is bigger than you, stay true.


Olivia Jane


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