We showcased the work of Peter Olson a few weeks ago with a post about contemporary urns. The interest in that piece was intense, so we thought we’d highlight some more of Olson’s work with his superb photography and this essay by Skye Malish.
As a professional photographer, Peter Olson has traveled the world many times over. From corporate culture to religious iconography, he finds meaning in the repetition of human expression. His recent ceramic sculptures draw upon his deep experience with the camera, to reimagine captured imagery in a cylindrical form.
The images encasing each ceramic piece are left by ink from photographic prints that when fired, burn away leaving a permanent and detailed image from the iron oxide in the ink.
These expertly collaged individual pieces give way to a fixed visual narrative, a kaleidoscope of imagery than spans centuries and continents. When joined this way, each motif contributes to a network of increasing complexity.
Accordingly, every image was captured by Olson himself, and each compilation is a testament to his eye, his interests, his documenting of his time on earth. His formal visual arts training in photography lends a refreshing take on what can be a traditional craft medium. The dimensions of individual pieces fall within a spectrum that changes with each series. Yet all are unique and do not adhere firmly to any framework but the artist’s own. Their vessel form serves more as an art historical reference to the ancient Greeks, than it does a utilitarian purpose. Many contain visual surprises; a hidden leaf placed just so, a strange and nuanced combination of characters—more than enough to satisfy a curious eye.
Most recently he has focused on complete works in three pieces that fit together like a puzzle. Riddle-like in their delicate placement, they mimic the precarious layers of their two-dimensional content. The effect of images wrapping around each piece seamlessly calls upon the photographer’s eye, as if their surface were the result of light reflecting images from a surrounding view. These forms are reflections of the world through the eyes of a seasoned photographer; and having been realized in three dimensions, they now take on a life of their own.
Skye Malish is an arts writer and exhibition designer.
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