My work always has revolved around my experiences coping with depression and anxiety. As an undergraduate I was conceptually thinking about the body and self esteem/emotional issues. I made amorphous white installation pieces out of fiber and pseudo self portrait paintings. Since graduating from college I have focused on painting, centering around the body in nature, mental and physical blocks, skeletons dancing with death, and the existential. Recently my subject matter has become more intimate and autobiographical. In 2020 the lens zoomed in on my day to day.
My work is very aligned with poets and writers including Frank O’Hara, Maggie Nelson, Ross Gay among many others. I think of my paintings as poems, often featuring grief, as vignettes of moments I want to remember despite the pain those memories might contain. In the artwork these moments are ethereal and are accompanied by rose colored glasses. In reality sadness isn’t always beautiful but you have to focus on joy in order to do more than survive. My work has felt like a coping mechanism this past year and the imagery is the result of attempts to hold on to small joys.
Emilia Olsen was born in Johannesburg, South Africa in 1989. In 2011, she received her BFA from the Corcoran College of Art & Design in Washington, DC. She has exhibited her work nationally, with solo shows at Spring Break Art Show (NY), Arts & Leisure (NY) and Doppelganger |Studio (Queens) and notable recent group exhibitions at Deanna Evans Projects (NY), Freight & Volume (NY), Gallery Also (LA), Elephant Gallery (Nashville), Greenpoint Terminal Gallery (Brooklyn), and Juxtapoz Projects at Mana Contemporary (NJ). She has been artist-in-residence at DNA Residency (Provincetown, MA); New York Studio Residency Program (Brooklyn, NY); Starry Nights (Truth Or Consequences, NM); Hotel Belmar (Costa Rica) and the Horse and Art Research Program (Hungary). Her work has been featured in Two Coats of Paint, Vogue, Art Maze, Hyperallergic, Maake Magazine, the podcast Sound & Vision and others. She lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.