Karyn Olivier


Karyn Olivier did not start out as an artist. It wasn’t until the age of 30, after a career as a retail manager at Urban Outfitters and Bloomingdale’s, that while working for artist J. Morgan Puett, she had her ‘aha’ moment. According to Olivier: “I watched this designer who really was the quintessential artist — living art at every moment. It was incredible to witness. I realized through watching her every day that life didn’t have to be compartmentalized — all of it can be imbued with art. A month later I quit my job, started a little business and began taking ceramics classes with the purpose of getting enough credits to go to graduate school”.         

Ceramics classes led to graduate school at Cranbrook Academy of Art, where Olivier explored and experimented with large scale installations. Olivier is now known as a large-scale installation artist whose work manipulates ordinary spaces and ordinary objects. In the exhibition, Karyn Olivier at Lehigh University Art Galleries / Teaching Museum, her work dominates the LUAG Main Gallery in the form of a brick wall imbedded with scraps of clothing, and a car cover stuffed with shoes. Olivier: “ I use everyday objects, spaces, locations and images to shift our experience of the familiar. I want to reimagine knowns, which are assumed to be concrete and set. My manipulation of familiar objects and spaces points to their malleability – they are fluid and never fixed”.

Karyn Olivier is the Department of Art | Architecture | Design’s Horger Artist-in-Residence for the Spring 2018 semester. The Horger Artist-in-Residence is a semester long rotating residency that brings a noteworthy talent to Lehigh University. Olivier is the inaugural artist for AAD’s Horger Artist-in-Residence and LUAG is pleased to present this exhibition in conjunction with her residency. In addition, she will teach a studio class, and install a permanent sculpture on campus in collaboration with Lehigh students.

Karyn Olivier continues until May 25, 2018 in the LUAG Main Gallery, Zoellner Arts Center. Hours are Wednesday – Saturday 11 AM – 5 PM and Sunday 1 PM – 5 PM. This project was funded in part by a Tyler Dean’s Grant from Temple University. Please join us for a reception celebrating all of this semester’s exhibitions at the LUAG Main Gallery on February 8, 2018 from 6 – 8 PM. Karyn Olivier’s Artist Talk will be held on April 12, 2018 from 6 – 9 PM at the Black Box Theatre, Zoellner Arts Center. 

Image: Karyn Olivier, Wall, 2017