Interview – Christine Olmstead – Belgrade Art Studio Online Residency

Christine Olmstead

When did you realize art was an integral part of your life?

Art has been an integral part of my life since I was a child. My mom emphasized art education for me and my brother growing up and put us in classes. Making art was like breathing, it was what you did every moment of the day. It was the escape, the mission, the joy, the process of existing was always making art.


What do you feel is crucial to your growth as an artist?

Permission and tools. I’m always trying to expand my skills, learning to artistic mediums and techniques. But I also find that giving myself permission to explore ideas – things that are initially scary, or overwhelming always produce tremendous growth.

What are your main influences and how do you approach your subject matter?

I’m influenced by the ordinary things that humans experience that are intangible. I give bodies to the feelings, the thoughts, and the moments that are unseen. Things like grief, loss, play, joy, peace etc., I give them bodies and encourage others to honor those moments in their lives that we all experience. I’m also influenced by material choices I also try to find inspiration from unconventional use of materials.


How would you describe your artistic style so far and which way do you wish it to be developed?

I’d describe my work as conceptual abstract art. I’d like to continue to explore sculpture and installation work but still pursuing abstract concepts.


You began to explore public and installation art…?

My 2021 series Synesthetic bodies was an installation project and I’ve pitched multiple public art installation projects and I’m hoping these opportunities come to fruition.


To what extent does the pandemic influence your depiction of art? Does it generate new inspiration?

The pandemic opened up my art. I was willing to take bigger risks with it. My artwork became more optimistic. The pandemic was such a strange time in human history. Every single day there was horrific news and it seemed like the world had ended and nothing we did really mattered. Because nothing seemed important anymore I experimented with new techniques and new concepts. I felt freedom to try new things with my art because none of it felt important or like anyone was paying attention.


How do you feel about being involved in an online residency program? How important is it to stay connected with the international art community?

I think it’s a great. Relationships and community with other artists is invaluable. There is no better way to refine your skills, grow your mindset, try new things, or explore other people’s ways of thinking than by participating in a residency. I’d recommend it to everyone.


What are your thoughts about the theme ‘artist on standby’? Tell us a bit more about your project…

I don’t know that the pandemic ever made me feel like I was “on standby”. If anything I feel like it opened up more possibilities and opportunities. Because making art is a way of life, I don’t think anything in life could keep me from creating art.


What do you want to achieve before things return too normal if it is to happen? Any future plans/projects?

I have a new series focused on the concept of “fun” and “play” what does it mean, what does it look like. How do we incorporate more of it into our lives? I don’t have any major future plans or projects I can discuss right now, but I’m in a place of openness, exploration, and slow progress.