A Monumental Exhibition

Solo exhibition at ICA Philadelphia explores our link to monuments

Larger-than-life scale is at the center of Karyn Olivier’s solo show at the ICA Philadelphia. (Courtesy Constance Marsh)

The Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) at the University of Pennsylvania has unveiled Karyn Olivier: Everything That’s Alive Moves, on view through May 10, 2020. The Philadelphia-based artist and sculptor Karyn Olivier has readied a series of works centered around her personal explorations of monuments and memorials. With a particular focus on scale, Olivier describes her work as a combination of larger-than-life scale and the minute, modest gesture.

Conceived as a revision and expansion of Olivier’s previous project, Everything That’s Alive Moves places monuments into new contexts that pose questions about the larger concepts of citizenship and responsibility. The exhibition includes a large-scale obelisk sculpture, a fully-functioning carousel for one rider, and a car built from repurposed shoes. In one installation, a floor-to-ceiling brick wall at the center of a gallery is intended to catch the eye as a spectrum of bright colors emerge from it—the piece, Wall (2017-2018), uses clothing wedged between the bricks in place of mortar, and the fabric cascades out of the rigid wall.



“We are thrilled to present the work of local artist Karyn Olivier. Olivier’s ability to connect with the community and people through her work is profound,” said John McInerney, interim director at ICA, in a statement to ArtDaily. “She adeptly shifts our experience of the familiar to reveal the malleable and unfixed nature of objects and spaces, enabling us to ponder meaning, honor the past, while creating new possibilities.”

Olivier has planned and built several memorials and public commissions herself, most recently being tapped to oversee the Dinah Memorial at Stenton, also known as the James Logan Home, in Philadelphia. Olivier also drew from her recent year of study in Rome, where she closely analyzed the intersection of the city’s public works with its history.

“Karyn’s searching curiosity is brilliantly indefatigable. Her sculpture incisive, her formal care and emotional responses to space simply searing,” said Anthony Elms, chief curator at the ICA. “What’s more is that still her art contains enormous amounts of joy for and delight in our world and the people who, through gestures big and small, recognized or unnoticed, endure and thrive for all our betterment.”

Karyn Olivier: Everything That’s Alive Moves is on view through May 10 at ICA. Admission is free and the show will be accompanied by a fully illustrated monograph set to be released later this year.

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