My art doesn't speak to everyone, but for those whom it does, it speaks volumes.
Olivia Steele (*1985 in Tennessee, USA) harnesses the power of neon gas to assert symbolic phrasing that allures and provokes. The contemporary light artist has earned an international reputation for her spirited public neon happenings in surreal environments.
Pioneering a new breed of conscious art, her expansive career has seen her impart fragments of handwritten wisdom and wit all over the globe, from Berlin to Beirut, Miami to Mumbai - in the form of site-specific land art and indoor installation with her signature illuminated sentiments. Aside from the immediately iconic and often humorous style of Steele’s work, her interventions are pointedly placed in environments that prompt existential musings. Her innate relationship with the sublime and spiritual manifest as explosive imagery where Steele’s opus positions her as one of the most compelling contemporary artists working in her field today.
My art is not about what I see… It’s about what I invite you to see.
Steele’s interpretable phrases inhabit spaces of contradictory, confrontational or conciliatory meaning. Always symbolic and sometimes irreverent, her handwritten neon statements suspend time and motion as they crystallize the unity between landscape, semiotics and spectacle that engenders countless avenues for contemplation.
Proving that “it is the spectator and not life that art really mirrors”, Steele’s oeuvre is a synthesis of contrast and contradiction. She encapsulates the contemporary storyteller and uses the traditional medium of neon to form her striking expressions that address the vortex of modernity.
Her neon works are short, punctuated truths that mirror the ingenuity (or malaise) of the digital age. Her glass acumens are often paired with incendiary imagery – explosive atomic bombs and religious symbols – that are evocative stimuli for the viewer. Covert emotions and unforeseen forces also charge Steele’s themes where her studies into consciousness and the divine pervade her transformative pieces.
Good, bad, right or wrong, it’s all relative. Art is notoriously ambiguous as there are no rules. The art of challenging conventional semiotics and observing the vast spectrum of strangers’ reactions and interpretations is both filled with lessons and highly rewarding.
Olivia Steele lives and works in Berlin, Tulum and London.