Jenny Olsen

MFA ’22 Fine Arts 2D

Quiet presence, living room couch and birthday cake

People, visible and invisible, are in my work. They are sitting, reading, thinking, doing their own things or have just left the room. They are there in person and in spirit. I paint the quiet presence of people. The quietness of the exterior allows me to hear the voice inside.

Size matters. I like my figures larger than life or very small. A five feet seated figure would tower if standing up. Small ones you could hold in your hands. Sometimes, I invert the colors of an image for cinematic effect. I keep traces of earlier marks and corrections there to convey the sense of time. I leave some areas unresolved for mystery and give viewers room for further thoughts.

Ever since the pandemic, my living room couch has taken center stage. School and home are the center of my world, thus center of my work. Currently, I am fascinated with birthday cakes, bathtubs, school uniforms, hats, shoes, and toes. Birthday cakes in particular make frequent appearances not only for their associations with both celebration and passing of time, but also for their “wishful” power. Best wishes all around.

Jenny Olsen is an oil painter. Jenny has shown her work in solo, small group, juried, and invitational exhibitions. She was the “Best in Show” winner of CAA’s National Prize Show in 2015, and a 2022 recipient of MassArt’s MASS MoCA MFA Alumni Residency Fellowship. While at MassArt, her work was selected for the annual Fresh Faces exhibition at the Abigail Ogilvy Gallery (2021) and MassArt’s All School Show (2022).