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GET TO KNOW

MEREDITH OLINGER


 1. Are you originally from Memphis? If not, what brought you here?

I am originally from Memphis. 

2. What is your favorite part of living in Memphis?

Memphis is an interesting city. Because I’ve lived here for so long, it feels more like a small town than a big city. I can’t leave the house without seeing someone I know; it’s a friendly place. But you also get all the benefits of a hustling and bustling city. The art community is also very open and encouraging here. I never feel like I’m competing with my peers, but that we are all encouraging each other and helping each other out. 

3. When did your current practice begin?

I started working with wallpaper about three years ago. I was in graduate school at the time. My work was kind of all over the place, and I didn’t know what my next move was. I knew about Spoonflower, and I decided to do an experimental wallpaper project. The piece was a failure, but I fell in love with wallpaper, and I’ve been working with it ever since. 

4. Have you always worked with paint and collage?

Yes, I have. Though my work has gone through many changes over the last ten years, paint and collage are a constant in my work. 

5. Can you tell us more about your process?

I make all my pattern designs myself. Some of them are strictly ornamental, but I also make patterns out of to-do lists, images of old paintings, doodles, and graphic design work I’ve done in old jobs. I also photograph my work while it is in process, make a pattern out of that, and then place it back in the work. I affix these patterns to a surface, then rip away at them. There is a little bit of all of my old work in every new piece. Nothing is discarded. 

6. What is a typical day like in the studio for you?

Every day is a little bit different. Some days, I’m in the studio all day. Sometimes I just pop in and work for an hour or two. I work relatively quickly, and I don’t need to be “in the zone” or anything like that. I just show up and work. Also, because I’m working with collage, there is some inherent downtime. I can’t start ripping away at my work until the glue is dry. 

7. What qualities do you look for in your compositions?

Since I work with pattern, my pieces are very busy, so I like to add a bit of breathing room. I’m looking for work that is dense, busy, and sometimes overwhelming, but there still needs to be a little bit of visual space. 

8. What or who influenced this body of work?

When I started this work, I was really looking at Mark Bradford, El Anatsui, and Nick Cave. There is a link to textiles in all their work, which is also present in my work. I’m also drawn to artists who work in a large scale and embrace color. 

9. What were you reading / listening to / watching while developing the work?

Funnily enough, this work developed as my interest in interiors was budding. Interior design is a bit of a hobby; I’m not amazing at it but I love it and spend most of my down time looking at interior design blogs and books. There is something about creating a feeling in a space as opposed to creating a single object that I am drawn to. Shifting into pattern and wallpaper came out of that. 

10. Whose work is currently on your radar?

I’m really into Kehinde Wiley’s work at the moment. I love his use of pattern. Also, Elliot Hundley is a newer favorite of mine. I love how layered his work is. Each layer is an art piece in and of itself. 

Visit Meredith’s artist page here.