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Penny Olson

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Wildcat 204-14, 2013 Dye- Infused Aluminum 33 X 33 Inches © Courtesy of the artist and Chandra Cerrito Contemporary
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Wildcat 200-09-12.3 , 2013 Dye- Infused Aluminum 33 X 33 Inches © Courtesy of the artist and Chandra Cerrito Contemporary
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Wildcat 204-09 , 2013 Dye- Infused Aluminum 33 X 33 Inches © Courtesy of the artist and Chandra Cerrito Contemporary
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Anemone 104-5.f , 2013 Dye- Infused Aluminum 33 X 33 Inches © Courtesy of the artist and Chandra Cerrito Contemporary
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Anemone 104-5a , 2013 Dye- Infused Aluminum 33 X 33 Inches © Courtesy of the artist and Chandra Cerrito Contemporary
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0028.9a(fennel), 2011 Face-mounted Archival Inkjet Print 23.25 X 23.25 X .75inches © Courtesy of the artist and Chandra Cerrito Contemporary
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0272.4h.1b (poppy), 2011 Dye-infused Aluminum 8 X 8 Inches © Penny Olson
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0023.7f (poppy), 2011 Archival Pigment Print With Acrylic © JAYJAY
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0113.6i, 2012 Face Mounted Ink Jet Print 24 X 24 Inches © Penny Olson
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Installation view © Courtesy of the artist and Chandra Cerrito Contemporary
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00417.7c , 2011 Archival Inkjet Print 17 X 17in. © Penny Olson
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0049(2), 2009 © Penny Olson
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Pond 1 , 2006-07 Pigment Print 30 X 40in. © Penny Olson
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Spring Bed 1 , 2007-08 Pigment Print 39 X 26in. © Penny Olson
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0232.6a (rose), 2011 Face Mounted 23.75 X 23.75in. © Penny Olson
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Wafer 332, 2015 Archival Print on Aluminum Face Mounted With Laminate 20 X 20 Inches © Penny Olson / Chandra Cerrito Contemporary
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4012 (Concrete), 2016 Archival Pigment Print on Metallic Paper Mounted on Dibond 54 X 80" © Courtesy of the Artist and Chandra Cerrito Contemporary, Oakland
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3378 (Concrete), 2016 Archival Pigment Print on Metallic Paper Mounted on Dibond 54 X 80" © Courtesy of the Artist and Chandra Cerrito Contemporary, Oakland
Quick Facts
Birthplace
New York City
Birth year
1948
Representing galleries
Statement

Penny Olson’s photography-based work is a synthesis of the artist’s diverse interests and expertise—digital technology, nature, textiles, reductive aesthetics, and process-driven art. Her abstract images are systematically composed using digital drawing tools. She samples, extrudes and overlays pixels from her more traditional photographs of nature--flowers, landscapes, sky, and water-- to create grid-like color fields. Although Olson specifically defines the mathematical parameters that determine the final compositions, she is unable to fully predict the results, allowing chance to be a factor. Olson’s prints can be made to a wide range of sizes and are presented either traditionally, face-mounted to 3⁄4” Plexiglas, or printed on dye-infused aluminum panels.

Olson received her MFA from UCLA in 1986 and her BFA from CCAC in 1976. Her work has been widely exhibited internationally, including at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manila, Philippines; Hong Kong Arts Center, Hong Kong; Kyoto National Museum of Art, Kyoto, Japan; North Dakota Museum of Art, Grand Forks; and the Taipei Fine Arts Museum,Taipei. 

 

Artist Statement

The source images for the Tablet Pictographs came from my iPad as I hiked along the Wildcat Canyon Trail above Berkeley, not much able to see the screen because of the bright sunlight, just pointing the tablet in a particular direction as I walked, and tapping the screen icon of what I guess could be called a shutter release, or maybe a light pen or not exactly a cuneiform etching stylus, but since they call it a tablet, I started thinking about early ways of recording visual information that had the intention of counting or organizing for the assumed purposes of keeping track in a visual way – keeping records using cuneiforms, the early Sumerian writing system that used wedge shaped elements etched into stone.

The iPad gave me a blurry document of the device’s view of the environment, of water and trees and earth in the winter afternoon light. Using my usual system of sampling a few picture elements and patterning them, I made a series that allows the original image to stay in the background of the completed work. I did this out curiosity, to see what would happen, and also with the intention of contextualizing the samplings, of showing a little bit of the source image as a part of the new whole. The result may not particularly succeed in informing the viewer as to the appearance of the original image, but a texture has emerged as a result of the layering, maybe it has to do with mixing of angles of light, of overlapping a small part of an image on top of itself, which I think adds a different dimension to those pieces.

Anemone Details
A number of years ago I planted a four-inch pot of Japanese Anemones in my garden. They quickly multiplied into a large clump, wiping out the other plants in the area, but flowering profusely toward the end of each summer. As the petals fell off, the plants produced fluffy seed heads, and I cut the whole thing back for the winter, never really paying much attention to what I was doing. Last year, as I began to cut them back, a hummingbird came right up next to me and began gathering the fluff, which caused me to rethink my intended garden cleanup, and to look more closely at this ‘dead’ material, actually of use to the hummingbird as well as quite beautiful. The patterning, and the color, and texture were extraordinary in a very subtle way.

“... how do you exercise the restraint that simplicity requires without crossing over into ostentatious austerity? How do you pay attention to all the necessary details without becoming excessively fussy? How do you achieve simplicity without inviting boredom?...Pare down to the essence, but don’t remove the poetry. Keep things clean and unencumbered, but don’t sterilize. ...Usually this implies a limited palette of materials. It also means keeping conspicuous features to a minimum. But it doesn’t mean removing the connective tissue that somehow binds the elements into a meaningful whole. It also doesn’t mean in any way diminishing something’s ‘interestingness,’ the quality that compels us to look at that something  over, and over, and over again.”

--- Leonard Koren, in Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers, 1994. Video from Test Negative, a work made in collaboration with Theodora Varney Jones, 2012

The project was initiated by the artist Theodora Varnay Jones, who was participating in an exhibition in San Francisco, which was part of the Zero1 Biennial based in San Jose. Theodora was making a sculpture from discarded plastic boxes that originally held vials of research material, perhaps stem cells to be used in breast cancer research. She invited me to work with her on a digital component for the work. I saw an opportunity to animate her sculpture with content-related material, and we began searching for possible sources of appropriate imagery. Through chance we were introduced a breast cancer researcher, who generously offered us the use of images of cells she had taken for a study now completed. I worked with the images to create a series of animations that were inserted into the piece, and are also now presented as a stand-alone work. The content, or subject matter became the core at the same time as it dropped away - that is, while conceptually inspired by the content of the material, the work, like all of my output, strives to be a visual, sensorial experience. While the content comes from a specific source it in no way intends to make a specific or literal comment. Part of our interest in the project was in repurposing the images and objects, in transforming them into art.

CV
 

Born: New York City 1948

Education

MFA, UCLA 1986

BFA, California College of Arts 1975

also studied: American Film Institute, Los Angeles, School of Visual Arts, New York, Mills College, Oakland, Sonoma State University, Miasa Bunka Center (Japan), Hongo Orimono Kobo (Japan)

Selected Exhibitions

2013  ORIGINAL SOURCE  CHANDRA CERRITO CONTEMPORARY (one person)    

2012   THE FUTURE IMAGINED: WHAT’S NEXT? SAN FRANCISCO CA (group, collaborative project w/T.V.Jones)

2012   JAYJAY SACRAMENTO, CA (group)

2011    CHANDRA CERRITO CONTEMPORARY, OAKLAND, CA (three person)

2011   JAYJAY SACRAMENTO, CA (one person)

2009    LIMN, SAN FRANCISCO, CA

2003    DON SOKER GALLERY, SAN FRANCISCO, CA

1999    MAD RIVER POST, WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA

1998    CENTURY GALLERY, SYLMAR,CA

1996    DOWNEY MUSEUM OF ART, DOWNEY, CA

1996    GALLERY 57, FULLERTON, CA

1995    SOUTHWEST TEXAS STATE UNIVERSITY, SAN MARCOS, TEXAS

1991    TRANSAMERICA GALLERIES, LOS ANGELES, CA

1991    METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART, MANILA, PHILIPPINES

1990    HONG KONG ARTS CENTER, HONG KONG

1990    NATIONAL ARTS CENTER, JAKARTA, INDONESIA

1989    DOWNEY MUSEUM OF ART, DOWNEY, CA

1989    TRANSAMERICA GALLERIES, LOS ANGELES, CA

1989    NATIONAL MUSEUM OF SINGAPORE, SINGAPORE

1989    NATIONAL ART GALLERIES, KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA

1989    THAILAND CULTURAL CENTER, BANGKOK

1988    KYOTO NATIONAL MUSEUM OF ART, KYOTO, JAPAN

1988    NORTH DAKOTA MUSEUM OF ART, GRAND FORKS

1988    DOWNEY MUSEUM OF ART, DOWNEY, CA

1988    TAIPEI FINE ARTS MUSEUM, TAIPEI

One person:

2011    JAYJAY, SACRAMENTO, CA

1998    EINSTEIN’S, VENICE, CA

1996    KOA GALLERY, UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII, HONOLULU, HI

1995    CENTURY GALLERY, (L.A. COUNTY MUNICIPAL GALLERY) SYLMAR, CA

1996    WRIGHT ART GALLERY, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, LOS ANGELES

Public/Corporate Collections

KAISER PERMANENTE, CA

SOMACH SIMMONS & DUNN, SACRAMENTO, CA

ILLINOIS STATE MUSEUM OF ART, NORMAL, IL

MENDOCINO UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT, MENDOCINO, CA

MUYOGI MUSEUM OF ART, TAKASAKI, JAPAN

ASAHI BUSINESS MACHINES, KARUIZAWA, JAPAN DENTSU, TOKYO

Appointments

Guest Lecturer, Department of Design/Media Arts, UCLA 2006

Lecturer, Department of Design/Media Arts, UCLA 1986-93

Teaching Artist, Vallejo Charter School, 2007-08

Visiting Artist, Arts in Corrections, California Medical Facility, Vacaville, CA 1999-2008

Artist in Residence, Ka'apiolani College, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, HI 1997

Temporary Director of Programs, Zeum (Arts and Technology Museum) San Francisco, Ca 2005

Member, Board of Directors, Vallejo Community Access Television 2005

Awards

2003 Preservation Award, Vallejo Architectural Heritage and Landmarks Commission

2001 Visiting Artist Award, William James Association

1995 Exhibition Award, Century Gallery, Sylmar, CA

1992 Artist Residency Award, Xerox Corporation

1990 Advanced Design Research Group Award

1989 Faculty Research Grant, UCLA
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