Informal Interview with Darkroom Photography artist in REsident, Olivia Weise.
It has been a true pleasure here at CHAW to watch Olivia work! We are thrilled to have had her in and about CHAW, and cannot wait to see where she will go with her work! Congratulations, Olivia- CHAW will always be here for you.
Olivia, tell us a little bit about you! How did you come to be an artist?
I had a strong interest in visual art and music since I was a kid but I always pretty awful at drawing, so after high school I enrolled in photography classes at Northern Virginia Community College which was a wonderful experience for me. I wound up finishing the degree program and while I don’t consider myself a photographer, I enjoy using photographic techniques in my process.
Why did you choose a residency at CHAW?
Coming from a diverse and community-based art background at NOVA, I was excited about the opportunity to work on a residency project in an atmosphere with people of a variety of ages, backgrounds and media, which CHAW provides. There is an amazing sense of community and high energy at CHAW which has helped me with my project immensely. Being surrounded by kids enthusiastically making art helped remind me of why I love to do it myself.
What was your initial proposal for this residency and how did your work change over the course of it?
Initially I had a much more laborious project in mind. My project is centered around the idea of exploring how experience is structured through light, space and material, and I had been going to parks and natural environments in the D.C. area that I’ve frequented throughout the years and taking multiple exposures on 35mm film and also gathering bits of organic material. I had planned to paint the material on to canvas and then coat everything with liquid silver gelatin emulsion and then expose my frames. In my head this actually seemed relatively straightforward, but the reality was that liquid emulsion can be very finicky and even when it was working the results didn’t convey much of what I hoped they would.
After a very inspiring conversation with CHAW’s Photography Department Chair Katherine Akey, I realized that the camera and printing methods I was using were overcomplicating my project so I started using light, water, organic material and recorded sound to produce photograms. The results have felt truer to the experience I’d like to create for the viewer as well as way more fun to make.
What’s your plan for this body of work now that the residency is coming to a close?
I would like to continue making photograms, perhaps on a larger scale or printed on a different media. I would also like to further experiment with the recorded sound from the locations I gathered material from and generate sound art and new visual pieces from that as well.
CHAW will be holding an informal Artists' Talk with our inaugural Darkroom Workspace Resident, Olivia Weise. Come see the work she's made while in residence at CHAW, ask her your questions and enjoy a beer. January 12th from 6pm to 9pm at The Capitol Hill Arts Workshop!