In order for me to fall for something, things really have to instantaneously spark. I was first introduced to the artwork of Angel Oloshove years ago while I was strolling through Myth + Symbol. As I was tip toeing around the store, these small circular porcelain badges with gold painted phrases immediately caught my eye. They were adorable and very pretty. It was as if they spoke a familiar language to me. I started to research online ... suddenly there were so many of them!
"posi-vibes" "good vibes" "stay wet" "girls rock"
"way chill" "trill" "qt bb" "wild heart"
I mentally memorized her name and took note. This work was different than anything I had seen before.
Around a year later I went to the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston's exhibition Texas Design Now and saw Oloshove's work featured among 35 other artists and artisans living and working across Texas. That night was inspiring! In just a short period, I had gone from seeing her work in a boutique to an exhibition. When I ran into her (for the first time!) at Bodega this past December, I totally had a happy fangirl moment. It was cool to be able to finally meet her in person and describe my longtime appreciation. I couldn't resist asking to interview her! Here is a peek into the colorful brain behind this magnificent work.
I am so grateful for Contemporary Arts Museum Houston's exhibition Texas Design Now and the internet because I was able to learn more about you and your work very easily. How long have you been working with ceramics?
In my high school ceramics was the “cool” class that everyone tried to enroll in. There was almost like a competition to get in. It was the creative option because the only other advanced art program was “commercial art” which seemed less exciting. I was in high school clay club, I took some in college but was still hung up on being a real painter. I’ve been keeping a steady ceramics studio practice now for 6 years.
My good friend Patricia Restrepo, Curatorial Associate & Business Manager of the CAMH, interviewed Angel as part of the exhibition Texas Design Now.
You studied at CCA, moved to Japan and worked in toy and doll production. How did you shift from toy production to ceramics? Was that a long transition or did it come naturally?
The design work I did was a natural outreach for me to use my creative skills in a career. My design was different because I was always coming from a fine art perspective and I would become frustrated when I had to make changes for clients or to allow for manufacturing budgets. The transition to my studio practice was pretty quick. It was the outlet for me to do everything that I wanted to do, without having to present to a client. That relationship felt really stifling to me. In the studio it was just me making decisions and then exhibiting after it was complete. I’d much rather deal with the critique of my work after it’s complete instead of asking permission to finish a project.
It was liberating.
I first saw your badges at Myth + Symbol and I totally remember early last year seeing Lena Dunham post one on Instagram. I don't know why but I think I virtually freaked out for you. Are you a fan? How did that make you feel?
My badges are some of the most popular things I make because you can just pop it on, or give it as a gift and it’s a wearable text piece. I was really excited when I saw that Lena Dunham had one of my pins. It’s exciting when your stuff gets out there in the world and to see who it interacts with. I was totally stoked.
I am obsessed with gradients and rainbows. What inspires your unique color palettes?
Color is so important to me. It’s the juicy delicious part of life. My palettes are inspired by the sunset and the beautiful gradients that occur naturally above us everyday. Nature is made of color. Nothing beats a beautiful sunset, it's an award for making through another day on earth.
I like how your sculptures are functional and they are not just decorative pieces. Also I appreciate that your work is so accessible at different pop ups and boutique stores. Is that important to you?
My sculptures are reserved solely for gallery and exhibitions. I make my bodies of sculptural work by exploring and abstracting a concept. My first show was Floating Worlds, which explored astral bodies and sentient beings. There’s a constant push and pull between the body and spirit and how humans have to navigate that space.
My vases and functional pottery comes from a different place. These are not mass produced as I still make everything by hand and make slight difference to each object. It is very important for me to have this line that’s more readily available for people who may not be able to collect art work. Beautiful objects can be serious life enhancements. That’s the kind of feedback I get from people, that it makes them happy to see or use my functional work in their homes. Beauty shouldn’t be limited to just those who can afford it, which is why I make that functional work.
Who were your early influences and who are your influences now?
My early influences were still the sunset over the fields of Michigan. Mark Rothko was the major one. His painting was the first piece of art that affected me, and made me feel the power of abstract communication. It was like a telepathic connection. Currently I love Laura Owens, Judy Chicago, and Avery Singer.
You seem like you are always on a roll with fresh colors and ideas. What keeps you going? What's next?
I’m working on a new body of sculptural work that is more visceral and complex. I’m exploring ideas of the human body and the frustrating reality of being a spiritual being in a flawed, temporal shell. Clay really mimics the flesh, my color mimics the spirit, reality is somewhere in the middle. I think my obsession with ideals and perfection really keeps me going. I always think “I could do better.” I love to keep raising the bar and I like to try to outwit myself. I want to make the most visually compelling, sumptuously irresistible things anyone has ever seen.
What are you listening to these days?
I’m listening to a lot of Drake, Kurt Vile, old Elliot Smith and Young Mammals.