RAIR | 2014-15
Olive Ayhens | New York, NY
Olive Ayhens has a B.F.A. and M.F.A. from the San Francisco Art Institute. She was awarded Fellowships from the Joan Mitchell Foundation (2013), Guggenheim Foundation (2006), The Pollock-Krasner Foundation (2001, 1998) and received the Adolph & Esther Gottlieb Foundation Individual Support Grant (1996). Ms. Ayhens has also been awarded residencies at the following: Yaddo, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Ucross, MacDowell, Fundacion Valparaiso, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Marie Walsh Sharpe Space Program, Blue Mountain, St. James Cavalier, Valletta, Malta, Djerassi, Millay, Salzburg Kunstlerhaus, Austria, Saltonstall. She is represented by the Lori Bookstein Fine Arts gallery, NYC.
My painting frequently evolves from a special sense of place, and transformation of environments in my own quirky ways. Sometimes a political/ecological subtext, but always and most importantly the love of the paint itself —with layering it, with exploring color relationships, building textures, etc. I have fun with personification as well as improbabilities of scale. My work is grounded in abstraction.
I work in connected series of paintings. Past series have reflected a year I spent in Montana, as well as aspects of California urban/tensions. My move to NYC for the Marie Walsh Studio Space program inspired a series, I refer to as “The Aesthetics of Pollution.” This theme deals with confrontation of nature versus the urban assault, gridlock in streams and skyscrapers instead of cliffs on the sides, steams and creeks returning to displace streets, with extinct and endangered indigenous animals, with bison up against skyscrapers, etc. etc. I was a recipient of the World Views residency (studio space in the former World Trade Center). The paintings while in residence reflected the many fabric patterns of architecture and gridlock. My work following the LMCC residency were involved with superimposing volcanic activity in the Hudson. This was a result of being from California and using volcanoes as a metaphor for the competitiveness of NYC. After 911 I put those pieces aside and focused on the luminosity of nightlight and the rhythm of bridges. This evolved to include interior objects: malls, rafters, crowds scenes, more cars, soldiers, changing reflections etc. My next passionate inspiration was the theme of “Extreme Interiors.” I visited a computer lab and was excited by the complexity of overlapping wires, equipment, robots… I felt this is like the cityscapes a total living system.
Shortly after the lab inspiration I attended an artist residency in Spain. From this experience I was influenced by the masterpieces of Moorish architecture. I am continuing with paintings of landscape in interiors and landscape as architecture. I include animals within the structures, “Memories of Beasts Past series.” I was invited to do pieces celebrating the 100th year anniversary of Grand Central Station. This suited my passion for place. Presently I am at an artist residency in Roswell, NM. Inspiration is abundant here, the light, sink holes, birds, desert weeds, critters: it is exciting and challenging where this is taking my work. - Olive Ayhens, 2014