‘Karyn Olivier: Winter Hung To Dry’

In her clothesline installation 'Winter Hung to Dry,' artist Karyn Olivier utilizes the sparest means to penetrate the consciousness of nostalgia and perception

Arts Review

Karyn Olivier: Winter Hung to Dry

Women & Their Work, through July 30

The back yards of shotgun style houses in New Orleans are generally too small to accommodate the traditional clothesline. Bed sheets on our collapsible, umbrella-shaped clothesline became a temporary fort or a gazebo for a tea party. Pressing my face into the warmth and stiffness of clean clothing, infused with the scent of fig trees, enveloped me in safety. During Hurricane Camille, the delicates, no longer dry, looked like darting fireflies. The pole, dislodged by the strong winds, hit the side of our house like a missile, breaking through 100-year-old brick and wall, pushing a mirror that had been in my family for four generations forward without breaking the glass. We had good luck for seven years. The next morning, we found our underwear in the treetops of several neighbors' yards. We didn't replace the clothesline.

Winter Hung to Dry is a site-specific work created by Karyn Olivier when she was working toward her MFA at Cranbrook Academy of Art. "In this installation, I manipulate the familiar – a laundry clothesline," she writes. "This exploration in the domestic converges with my interest in nostalgia. Nostalgia functions in my work through cultural references (memory-based and imagined) and through art historical references, notably minimalism. I overlay the two using the simplicity of minimalist language to trigger a recollection of past cultural norms. In employing the directness of minimalist form, the viewer is faced with an often unsettling and uncanny experience in which the fiction created challenges the realness of the original."

Hanging out laundry, a simple act, an eco-friendly act, disrupts modern sensibilities. We reveal too much about ourselves, presenting the inside out of our public selves. Clothes tell stories of the condition and status of our life, of our work roles, and describe aspects of our culture. Olivier is utilizing the sparest means to penetrate the consciousness of nostalgia and perception. Through a simple clothesline weighted with an abundant amount of clustered clothing, unable to undulate, a rebellious core is revealed: that we are identified and marked by our clothing. Today, we are asked to hide the eyesores of our sexuality, our economics, our diversity, and our politics.

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Karyn Olivier:Winter Hung To Dry, Winter Hung to Dry, Cranbrook Academy of Art

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