”I try to counter a single perspective (which is usually read, misleadingly, as ‘universal’) with one that's complex and messy—perhaps mirroring our histories in a more honest way.”
Karyn Olivier creates monuments, memorials, and visual art installations that intersect and collapse multiple histories and memories with present-day narratives. Her work considers the representation of conflicting narratives in parks and civic sites and the reinterpretation of neglected public spaces. In her 2017 piece The Battle is Joined (commissioned for the Center-supported Monument Lab: A Citywide Public Art and History Exhibition), Olivier encased the Battle of Germantown Memorial in Philadelphia’s Vernon Park in reflective acrylic so that the piece could literally mirror its present-day surroundings and passersby. Her 2019 audio installation Because Time In This Place Does Not Obey An Order connected Dr. Martin Luther King's "Letter from Birmingham Jail" to the history of Florence, Italy’s Le Murate, the site of both a former prison and convent and now a public square. Olivier is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Rome Prize from the American Academy in Rome, among other awards. Her work has been commissioned by Philadelphia’s and New York City’s Percent for Art programs and exhibited at venues including New York’s Studio Museum in Harlem and Whitney Museum of American Art, Pittsburgh’s The Mattress Factory, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. She is an associate professor and program head of sculpture at Temple University’s Tyler School of Art and Architecture, and she holds an MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art.