Vanessa Marie Olivarez

My sculptural work is about creating visceral and immersive spaces. I am interested in how identity, memory, and nostalgia operate within one another to spark various states of emotional response. My work takes form through fabricated environments made of screen based imagery (gifs, videos, and webpages), colorful objects, and transparent surfaces that are meant to create a psychological looped space. Birthed out of trauma, these installations first present a seemingly utopic space but ultimately become a time warp of inescapable memories and image fragments that parallel being stuck in a screensaver. The initial promise of the bright colors, repetitive sounds, and entrancing space ultimately give way to environments whose repetitive nature creates an experience of trapped anxiousness. These fabricated environments also act as a coping mechanism that carry the essence of playfulness made up of colors associated with childhood. Inspiration is drawn from the cartoon era of the late 80’s and 90’s where shows were animated using flat bright colors. Using pinks, yellows, and purples, these colors are meant to evoke emotions of carefree fascination and innocence. As more time is spent within it, the allure of the space loses its whimsy and the overwhelming hues and cycling imagery begin to irritate. My installations function as an emotional landscape, they use ambient sounds accompanied with various methods of displays such as outdated television monitors and DVD players. I explore the fragmented space using reflective and transparent surfaces. I use transparency and translucency in objects because of their ability to reflect and mask. The transparency in my objects and videos act as points of entrance for viewing In a number of my installations, videos are projected onto fabricated plexiglass objects such as a desk and a seesaw, as well as screens made out of sheer fabric. Transparent videos become material looping in thirty second to one-minute intervals. Showcasing these videos this way causes them to become fragmented, utilizing various forms of fragmentation within my work, memory is emphasized, having no clear beginning or end. Aside from my sculptural work, my illustrations are inspired by my culture and interest in improving accessibility for and representation of womyn, queer, and persyns of color. From my own experiences, I relate to the frustration and despair that individuals face while struggling to survive and have validation in their identities. I promote self love and care while dealing with anxieties. I’m able to make these topics more accessible turning them into zines or wearables that one can take home with them.

Artist Work

Ya Estx (2018)
I try to incorporate as much color into any illustration that I make. This piece was inspired after attending an event in Boyle Heights I witnessed vendors from Mexico weaving serapes. I observed a mujer taking a break surrounded by many hues.

Ofrenda (mi) (2017)
Created before dia de los muertos was approaching. My mental health was at a low trying to wrap my head around the absence of a persyn. It is an offering to those who have passed, being in solidarity with death.

LLORONX (2018)
Based of the loteria card game, I made mi own card based off the myth of La Llorona or " the weeper." Since I identify as NB it is spelled as Lloronx making it genderless, allowing anyone to relate. I screen-printed this illustration by hand on a shirt.

In Retrospect it was Always an Obsession (2016)
Distortion and masking is important for my video work as it allows me to take on many identities interchangeably, all while navigating through my own. Audio was a collaboration between a friend and I.