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Karyn A Olivier
Brooklyn, NY
Neighborhood: Fort Greene

ARTIST STATEMENT: I investigate our social interactions with familiar objects, spaces and each other, through the use of sculpture, installation, public works, photography and video. My work attempts to abrade surfaces and uncover our humanity, to reveal affinities and disparities. I often manipulate the familiar — from the redundancy of replicated objects (Doubleslide) to the exaggeration of what appears to be already there (Inbound: Houston). When a fabrication of an ancient Roman outhouse (Toilet) is placed inside a converted cow stable that now functions as a museum, is privacy still possible? My work often explores the changing countenance of intimacy as it fluctuates between a private (individual) experience and a social (collective) one (It’s not over ‘til it’s over, ACA Foods Free Library). This exploration of everyday objects and spaces converges with my observation of nostalgia, which functions in my work through cultural and historical references. I conflate these, using the simplicity and directness of a minimalist aesthetic to induce a perceptual shift in our reading of these once familiar objects. This provokes an unsettling experience in which the created work challenges the historic meaning of the original. The manipulation of object, space, and context elicits an absurd experience that may be mournful, funny, or both. Recently, I have begun a photography series titled Double Vision. The images take diplopia (the disorder of vision in which two images of a single object are seen simultaneously) and apply it as a conceptual idea — sometimes inverting the object’s meaning. Photographic collages of seemingly disparate images create a sleight of eye, suggesting a visual accord that’s not necessarily there. As in the spatial works, the everyday is mined here too, blurring the line between friction and ease, dissonance and unity — mirroring the complexities that make us human.

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Karyn Olivier, who was born in Trinidad and Tobago, received her M.F.A. at Cranbrook Academy of Art and her B.A at Dartmouth College. Olivier has exhibited nationally and internationally at such venues as the World Festival of Black Arts and Culture (Dakar, Senegal), the Gwangju and Busan Biennials (Korea), The Museum of Fine Arts Houston, The Contemporary Arts Museum (Houston), the Wanas Foundation (Sweden), The Whitney Museum of Art at Altria (NY), MoMA P.S.1 (NY), Uferhallen (Berlin), the SculptureCenter (NY), Atlanta Contemporary Art Center and The Mattress Factory (Pittsburgh). Olivier has been the recipient of many awards and grants including a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, the Joan Mitchell Foundation Award, the William H. Johnson Prize, an Art Matters grant, the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Biennial Award and a project grant from the Creative Capital Foundation. Olivier was an artist in residence at the Core Program (MFAH), Studio Museum in Harlem and the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. Her work has been reviewed in The New York Times, Time out New York, The Village Voice, Art in America, Flash Art, Mousse, Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art, Frieze, among others. Olivier is currently an assistant professor of sculpture at Tyler School of Art.

647 Fulton Street
Brooklyn, NY 11217


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