Today we’d like to introduce you to Olga Lah.
Olga, we’d love to hear your story and how you got to where you are today both personally and as an artist.
I never thought I would become an artist. After college, I was headed to the Harvard Graduate School of Education where I wanted to study to pursue a career in museum education or arts education policy. Unexpectedly, my family wanted me to stay to help my dad at home and in his business. My mom had died when I was 13, and since then my two older sisters had taken on her heavy responsibilities. It was now my turn. I believed the right thing to do was to stay. While I helped my dad I felt lost as to what to do next. In my mind, at the time I thought I would pursue a more meaningful path by going to Fuller Seminary. Yet I was lost as ever after I emerged with my theological degree. After working in several different office positions, I was between jobs and a move and so decided to audit a course in Art and Theology at Fuller. It was a mind opening class. It was the first time that I understood how art could powerfully reveal something about ourselves and our reality. I took a few more classes, I got back into making art after a 10-year break, and I really took time to think about what I wanted to do with my life. Out of that year-long process I decided that I wanted to jump into the unknown by becoming a professional artist. Nine years later I know it was the best, most profound decision of my life. I am doing exactly what I should be doing, and I am thrilled that I get to create purposeful work.
We’d love to hear more about your art. What do you do and why and what do you hope others will take away from your work?
I create large-scale, site-specific installations that use the repetition of commonplace objects. I like using easily accessible and low-cost materials. I’m interested in the idea of creating an overwhelming experience with simple elements. I want to take this approach to alter the context of a space by placing unexpected works within urban sites, engaging with spatial dimensions of a gallery, putting vibrant pieces in everyday public areas. I’m looking to create an awareness to our surroundings by interrupting how we move in a space. I also point to ideas on perspective and memory or in other words, how we experience and understand our reality. In line with platonic thought, I want to express truths about transcendence that uncover something about the familiar.
Most of my work is transient. I want to place great importance on the immediacy of an encounter and the reverberating impact on memory. I am very interested in the history of modern abstraction—creating a psychological experience that brings attention to our present consciousness. Ultimately, I am attempting to create a contemporary visual language that talks about existence. I am always seeking to construct ambiguity in my work to parallel the nature of precarious divinity and enormous grace.
What do you know now that you wished you had learned earlier?
Being a good artist is not based on skill and talent alone. The burden can be lifted from the idea of the genius. Instead, commitment and steadfastness are needed to become successful. A stick-to-itiveness in creating art is important. Also, having a long-range vision instead of expecting quick success is key.
The lesson I wished I learned earlier is always, always stick with your artistic intuition!
Do you have any events or exhibitions coming up? Where would one go to see more of your work? How can people support you and your artwork?
I’ll be putting up one of my largest installations yet for BoldPas, an annual art event in Pasadena, on June 8. Forty feet of material will be flowing out of the third story of a parking structure off Mercantile Alleyway. In July I’ll be in a group show at the Williamson Gallery at the Art Center College of Design. I post exhibition and project announcements on my website at www.olgalah.com and on Instagram under @olgalah_studio. I also send out email announcements which can be signed up for on my website.
- Website: www.olgalah.com
- Instagram: @olgalah_studio