Carolyn Olson takes extremely ordinary daily events and turns them into big, colorful studies of life and relationships.
C.O.: I am primarily a narrative painter working in either gouache, water-based oil paint or pastel. I have also experimented a bit with sculptural figures made out of plywood or iron.
Self-portrait called “Halloween Costume.” Oil on board 36″ x 48″
My subject matter has always been based in my daily life – family/friends, observations of others – often strangers. I’m from Duluth originally and moved to the Cities after high school to study painting and graphic design. From there I moved to Mississippi where I worked as a graphic designer for a non-profit organization dedicated to social reform. Being one of the few white folks in our neighborhood I spent a lot of time observing, listening, and re-examining my place and work. My drawings and paintings at that time were my way of trying to understand the people and the place where I was living. Being from the north and white – it was a cultural education. My paintings were universal stories such as a mother’s love for her family, children playing – poverty and race became a part of my subject matter.