http://www.oliviapetrides.com
http://www.drawingcenter.org/viewingprogram

Bio

Adjunct Associate Professor, Painting and Drawing, Visual Communication Design (1985). MFA, 1977, School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Exhibitions: Nordic Museum, Seattle; Hafnarborg Institute of Art, Iceland; American Cultural Center, Reykjavik, Iceland; Madison Museum, Yellowstone, WY; Hellenic Museum, Chicago. Publications: Peterson Field Guide to Western Trees. Collections: Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC; Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston; Field Museum, Chicago. Awards: Margaret Klimek Phillips Fellowship; American-Scandinavian Foundation Awards to Iceland and Greenland; Fulbright Research Award; Residencies at Catwalk, NY; Virginia Center for Creative Arts; Vermont Studio Center; Ragdale Foundation; Kjarvalstadir, Iceland; Faroe Islands Museum of Natural History.


Personal Statement

My drawings are immersive, large-scale abstractions based on my travels in the arctic North Atlantic since 1993. I am interested in how evocations of sublime natural phenomena resonate with the tensions and pressures of contemporary times.

In January 2007, I was an artist-in-residence at the Gil-society in Akureyri, Iceland, a town just below the Arctic Circle. I requested a winter residency specifically to see the northern lights—the aurora borealis—a spectacular, continuously moving phenomenon caused by atmospheric gases interacting with solar particles. I translated the flux of the aurora into a language of discrete marks and fluid gestures. Like the aurora, each image is a provisional conclusion to an evolving process. As such, the aurora represents the constant forces of energy and decay that is "landscape."

I have focused on drawing as a medium because of its direct, elemental and transparent nature. It is of great importance to me that my drawings display characteristics that are distinct from painting, that ideas of "mark," and "gesture" are paramount.


Current Interests

I have painted and drawn landscapes in Iceland, the Faroe Islands, and Greenland. I look for primal phenomena such as volcanoes, geysers, faultlines, lava flows, icebergs, glaciers, caves, and—most recently—the aurora borealis. These sites are remote, pristine, and so physically and metaphorically powerful that they would seem to be unassailable and not easily utilized or demolished. Yet glaciers are melting and icebergs are towed to Asia, and so my delight in being in such locations is tempered with the knowledge that these are contested territories.

In terms of working method, I am influenced by the 19th century painters Frederic Church, Albert Bierstadt, and Thomas Moran. They were world travelers, artists and naturalists. Their large scale works of sublime landscapes were preceded by meticulous sketches of the natural world. I follow that practice. My work as illustrator of natural history field guides (two in the Peterson Field Guide series) point to an ongoing engagement with traditions of observation and cataloging in the natural sciences. Although my work is abstract, my on site sketchbooks are filled with realistic studies. Creating the sketchbooks is essential to my understanding of a place. This level of observation is the underpinning of my studio practice.

 

Disclaimer: All work represents the views of the INDIVIDUAL ARTISTS & AUTHORS who created them, and are not those of the school or museum of the Art Institute.