Artist Statement: Olivia Holtzman '20
“We need the tonic of wildness…We are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed. We can never have enough nature.” -Henry David Thoreau: The Walden, 1854
My body of work has developed through the idea of environmental sustainability. My exhibitions
intent is to spread awareness and explore the consequences that our livelihoods have on the planet, in the hopes of allowing viewers to shift their actions to align with their values. Each piece is personalized by only portraying issues that I have worked on and viewed first hand: beach cleanups and marine conservation, spreading awareness on factory farming, forest preservation, and studying methane emissions.
I incorporated different mediums and textural elements in my work to empathize with the message of each piece, such as the deliberate usage of local collected plastics on The Whale and Growing Tree to show the intensity of rubbish in our area, or the use of sharp tools to create texture on The Ivory Game t o represent the physical destruction of the animal. These aspects make my works unique because they provide a direct connection to my personal life and beliefs surrounding environmental sustainability.
My strength is painting with oils, but throughout the process, I challenged myself to experiment with different mediums and types of art. I worked dry points on plexiglass, sculptural pieces and gouache collage art to convey my theme by giving the viewer a range of mediums and different ways to interpret each issue. This also challenged me to find abstract ways to depict the issues.
To present the progression of my works, I will present linearly from left to right with the two themes of environmental sustainability separated.
The beginning of my show will showcase: The Cause, Glaciers , and Evolution of Man to highlight how our relationship to consumerism has negatively impacted the environment, through animal agriculture, pollution, deforestation, and climate change. Evolution of Man ties in my passion for history, by showing the significant historical effects that have impacted our planet, whereas The Causes shows how human beings view the process of global warming as a game.
These works are a good introduction to the second part of my exhibition because they show the viewer the connection between our actions, our history and the current state of our planet, and how it relates to conservation.
Whale, Ivory Game, Deforestation, and Rhino display the idea of species conservation. This is the area of environmental sustainability that I am most passionate about and hope to pursue in my future. Ivory Game and Rhino highlight the significance of the ivory/rhino horn trade and how their extinction will impact the planet and our future. This is a common example of how our careless actions surrounding greed and profit connect to the loss of an keystone species.
In the center of my works is Growing Tree. This is arguably the most important piece in my exhibition because it displays my relationship to these issues and its significance in my life. The planting pot signifies the connection I have with the planet and its importance to me, by the experiences and background I painted on it. The tree coming out of the pots roots are intoxicated in plastics, that I possibly caused through careless action. Growing Tree balances out the importance of our values by showing the greater effect that our lives as humans have on the planet. This selection of works surrounding animal conservation and humanities relationship with consumerism gives the viewer insight into my different passions surrounding the environment.
I chose to place my different works in main to bring light on all these issues. Main is a commonplace in our community where people often sit together or pass by. In the mist of everyone’s obligations and busy lives, the hope is that passing by my works will serve as a reminder to put the environment first and leave with a new appreciation of nature. I want to use my pieces as a wake up call on the importance of protecting our planet, its animals and resources for future generations.