The AP Questionnaire: Iviva Olenick

Ivava Olenick joins the MFA AP Faculty this summer to lead the Fibers Workshop. To introduce her, we've asked her to respond to the AP Questionnaire. 

What was the last thing you made?
An embroidered portrait of my great grandma, Ida, (my mom's grandmother), based on several historical photographs.  

What was the last thing you read?
The last book that moved and affected me is Paul Beatty's The Sellout. 

What was the last exhibition you saw? 
Nine, the 2017 Queens Museum Studio Exhibition.

What motivates your practice?
A desire to connect the past to the present to create greater awareness of the whys and hows of human behavior; and a related desire to understand how things are made and produced, particularly textiles — threads, fibers, yarns, dyes. 

How has your practice changed?
I have become more willing to take on experiments, like growing dye-producing plants even without planting experience. I have also become increasingly interested in historical research relating to my own family and to U.S. and colonial America in an attempt to better understand contemporary socio-cultural dynamics and inequities.  

Who do you most admire?
Artistically, there are many artists whose works speak to me, including Xenobia Bailey and my friend, Nathan Vincent, who also crochets sculptures and installations.   

Your favorite artwork made before your lifetime?
While not my favorite work (and a work of literature rather than visual art), I found myself reading and rereading Simone de Beauvoir's The Second Sex as a college student. I also obsessed over the language plays in Nabokov's books, including Ada or Ardor.  

Your favorite artwork made during your lifetime?
Hard to pinpoint one as I believe we create within the context of each others' work, benefiting from a collective conversation that strengthens and challenges individual's contributions. That said, I was impressed with the scale, ambition and ephemerality of Kara Walker's A Subtlety.