Artist Bio:

Olszewski is not one to seclude himself in his studio. Last summer, he drove his Pontiac Montana on a 7200-mile road trip, Running with the Devil: Vision Quest 2015. Along the way, he created site-specific, interactive installations and invited total strangers to write their darkest secrets onto his “canvases” – protective car covers that Olszewski then transfigured into objects resembling ceremonial animal skins.

The story skins document how the haunted past of Native-America is not dead; in fact, it’s not even past. Crowding the skins are images of buffalo nickels, portraits of Custer and Andrew Jackson, cartoon mascots of the Braves and the Redskins. Between the images are raw, hand-scrawled statements like “I’m afraid of living,” “I’m Free,” and “Don’t Cross this Line.” The results are complex visual narratives portraying our hopes, rages, and fears and the pop culture totems that fuel them: beer cans, porn, car commercials and prayers.

In retracing the haunted history of Native-Americans (on previous trips he has driven the Trail of Tears and Custer’s route to Little Big Horn) Olszewski  uncovers the demons of our collective history and places them alongside the private demons of people he meets on his quests, as well as his own personal demons. The result is a sense that none of our demons are truly private. They belong to all of us.

Olszewski’s provocative work – painting, sculpture, graffiti, interactive installation, performance art – deploys multiple genres, responding to a mediated culture that sells us to ourselves in headlines, trailers, image fragments and ad slogans. The work is visually acute, politically pointed, and painfully alive.


Christopher Olszewski