Contemporary visual artist Olivia Steele uses neon light to charge spaces with ironic and spiritual meaning. Proving that nothing is [really] what it seems, Steele has created a body of contrasting works ranging from small to large installations and urban interventions that employ the traditional commercial medium of neon glass to make intimate statements which address the artist’s deep pondering on the uncertainty of life and the reality of modern culture. Steele relishes the idea of contrast and contradiction and plays with our innate preconceptions. The juxtaposition of the neon statement and the environment is placed in challenging conventional semiotics and evokes a wide range of interpretations.
In dialogue with media such as facades, rivers, photographs, and found objects, she tells short stories that evoke thought while illuminating our perception with acumens formed in neon glass. Henri Nannen once wrote, “Art has to be provocative, it has to stimulate our thoughts.” With this as encouragement, Olivia Steele uses iconic images such as exploding atomic bombs or the seemingly sacred cross along with deep personal sentiments to jar the viewer beyond the everyday. The nature of her content is both provocative and reflective as her work asks the viewer to consider the hidden emotions and unforeseen forces in these moments of reflection. Another level of Steele’s contemplative works is transformation, inspired by the otherworldly nature of divine inspiration and consciousness. "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," says the artist. Yet, she holds true to the belief that it is the spectator and not life that art really mirrors.
Olivia Steele (*1985 Nashville, Tennessee) lives and works in Berlin, London, and Tulum.