When Olivia Parkes approached me regarding a residency at BoxoHOUSE, I had a major question for her - why? Olivia had completed a successful residency with the Joshua Tree National Park Artist-In-Residence Program and her parents had retired to the area, living in Pioneertown. Olivia was convincing in answering that she had tapped into a wealth of material she wanted to explore much further and that she wanted to be accountable to a structure for getting a body of work done in four weeks. Olivia was also convincing in producing exactly what she promised - a dynamic residency which included strong programming and a wonderful finished exhibition.
Olivia's quest was to create a body of work related to the myth of the West as portrayed by the entertainment industry and its ongoing role in contemporary culture and politics. The lens she used to focus into this area was the Western movie - the heroes and heroines and conventions of the genre were all explored in collage and painting. She took control of the studio and brought a wealth of material - books, magazines and comics from the heyday of the Western, filled with remarkable and sometimes amusing images and content.
The residency was punctuated weekly by screenings of Western classics - The Ox Bow Incident, High Noon and Who Shot Liberty Valance. The movies highlighted the cultural attitudes of the times and it was clear how some of these stances survive today in the American psyche and theater. Each screening was followed by lively discussion and also served as impromptu previews of the exhibition as we were surrounded by source material and work in progress in the studio.
By the end of the residency, Olivia had produced a full exhibition of collages and oil paintings, providing her unique perspective on how these Western images continue to affect our cultural perspectives. We held a lively open house on a beautiful Joshua Tree day and Olivia rode off triumphantly into the setting sun (sic). Work from both Joshua Tree residencies are on exhibition at the National Park Visitors Center until the Fall of this year. A blog article on Artfetch about Olivia and the residency can be seen here.
I'm very thankful to Olivia for coming from Berlin and putting so much energy and focus into a truly dynamic residency.