Olivia Piepmeier

Artist Statement

My creative practice is a celebration of what was, what is, and what made the piece of art you see before you possible. Lynda Barry (and therapy) taught me that what comes out is valuable, beautiful, and unique. It doesn’t have to look like the work of others that I admire to be worthy of existing. They are not me and I’m not them. My hand and brain are my own and will create only what I can create. I don’t care if you like it, but if you do, know that it warms my heart to have made something that speaks to you.

Mindfulness is almost a cliche in western culture these days, but it has changed my life and is at the center of my practice as an artist. You must be present to create. When I create, I’m balancing my perfectionist nature with my desire to capture a feeling of a fleeting moment that may have been ignored - the light catching on a snap pea on a spring evening, the sun rising around the curves of a mountain road, the way everything is essentially just shapes of color. My art is usually born out of this fascination with treasuring small moments in the moment and attempting to capture it to pass it along. I can’t lie, however, in that sometimes I just make stuff to see if I can take what’s in my brain and make it appear before me.

I honor the process of making. A piece of art didn’t just appear one day, a human brain, labor, and materials went into creating it. The brush strokes, stray lines, the mixing of color, the testing of color, the leftover paint, the paper towels, the sketches, a sign of the person behind the camera, variation between a series of prints are all emblems of this process and are venerated in my work.

Everything about oil paint draws me to it like a magnetic connection. The smell! The texture! While I work with it, I feel at ease and engaged from all sensory points (well, okay, not taste). Beyond this visceral reaction, I love the medium for its malleability and sculptural possibilities - the way it necessitates layers and time. I appreciate watercolor and gouache as less technically complicated ways to play with color and I’m working to try to honor these other painting mediums for their strengths. Block printing is an exercise in pushing my brain to think differently and distill an idea to basic elements of positive and negative spaces. I often use photography as a tool in my painting preparation, but some things are not meant to be recreated in another medium.

I err on the side of informal presentation methods, often relying on a mix of “low” media, lack of frames, etc. to finalize my pieces and put them out into the world. This allows me to make my art more financially accessible for people to own. Art has long been a status symbol for taste and class. Art is special and worthy of your time and money to collect (and create, of course), but it shouldn’t be something that is inherently impossible for a large group of people to enjoy, own, and use to enhance their lives.