We are Stardust II by Loren Olson

We are Stardust II by Loren Olson

inspired by tragedy, artist captures human spirit

Tom Shafer, Friday October 30, 2105
Lafayette Journal and Courier

Loren Olson’s “Being and Becoming in a Field of Resonance,” currently on display in the McDonald Gallery at the Art Museum of Greater Lafayette, is not only an outstanding example of mixed media technology but an act of creation resulting from a damaging environmental event.

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill began on April 20, 2010, in the Gulf of Mexico on the BP-owned Transocean-operated Macondo Prospect while the artist was working on watercolors in Italy. The artist’s emotional reaction to this disaster took her away from a long-standing and well-known art series and placed her firmly in a new direction.

I first saw some of this series in April 2013 when Olson exhibited a small selection of pieces at Lala Gallery in downtown Lafayette. Much of the work was drawn and displayed in black and white. As in the Lala show, the subject matter of the current exhibit is the human figure but not shown in any traditional format. Some pieces deal with a single figure, while others use multiple human shapes.

Unlike the earlier exhibit, these pieces are vivid in their coloration. In “Being and Becoming II,” a digital print on SmoothPhoto cloth with LED lights, Olson uses a single human form shown in various intensities of blues. The form is complete with energy filled lines radiating from the figure. In “Being and Becoming I,” the figure begins to break up, as if the internal human energy or life force is being distributed across the universe.

The emotional response of the artist to personal experiences or simply to the physical world in general in many cases results in the production of art. At times, however, it is as if the artist is an observer letting the art take charge.

As Olson writes in her artist statement, “I feel I am following, more than I am choosing, what I make.” The path that she follows illustrates the power of the human spirit, or life force that emanates from all of us. One entire wall of the gallery is taken up with 16 individual works that play off one another. Each piece shows an individual or small groups of figures, all of which seem alive with their glowing chi.

Of all the pieces in this dynamic display, one stood out as a clarification of the art’s intent. “We Are Stardust II,” digitally combined with a NASA image of the Small Magellanic Cloud, shows again a single human emerging from and blending into our star-filled universe.

Shafer provides insight about art exhibits in Greater Lafayette. Email him at orieshafer@hotmail.com.