Karyn Olivier


In her work, Karyn Olivier (b. Trinidad and Tobago) shifts the viewer’s experience of the familiar through the discrete placement, rearrangement, embellishment, and replication of everyday objects in various sites. Revealing the malleable and unfixed nature of objects and spaces, this manipulation forces us to reconcile memory with the present moment, collapsing the past with the present. Olivier incorporates photographs and photo collages into her practice in order to mine the everyday, blur the line between friction and ease, dissonance and unity and mirror the complexities that define humanity. The hope is to create a sleight of eye, a slit into something else, a conflation suggesting a visual accord that’s not necessarily there.

Olivier’s work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, including exhibitions at the Gwangju and Busan Biennials, Korea; World Festival of Black Arts and Culture, Senegal; the Wanas Foundation, Sweden; SculptureCenter, NY; The Studio Museum in Harlem, NY; The Whitney Museum of Art, NY; MoMA P.S.1, NY; The Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Texas; The Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Texas; and Socrates Sculpture Park, New York. She is the recipient of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, the Joan Mitchell Foundation Award, the New York Foundation for the Arts Award, a Pollock-Krasner Foundation grant, the William H. Johnson Prize, the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Biennial Award and a Creative Capital Foundation grant.

Karyn Olivier, Untitled (Coffee Table), Installation view at MoMA PS1 L.I.C., NY, 2005. Coffee table, foam board and latex paint, h.13 ft. w.50 in. d.23 in. Courtesy the artist and MoMA PS1.

Click here to see images of Karyn Olivier’s artwork at SculptureCenter as a part of In Practice, 2004.


FEATURED ARTIST: Karyn Olivier, Inbound: Houston. Houston, Texas, October 26-November 22, 2009. Courtesy the artist.

From Olivier:

With the assistance of a Creative Capital Foundation grant I converted 13 billboard advertisements on Houston’s freeways to photographic representations of the landscape that exists directly behind the billboard structures. In addition, I collaborated with two composers who created a musical score to accompany the billboards—this soundtrack was available on Houston’s NPR station. I premiered two videos, which I made to accompany a live performance of these compositions on November 17, 2009 at Moores Opera House at the University of Houston.