Meredith Olinger is an artist living and working in Memphis, TN. Olinger works primarily with wallpaper of her own design. Her work deals with the dependence of art and design on each other, handmade versus digital production, and blurs the line between painting and installation. Olinger has been included in many group shows, including the Art of the South Exhibition sponsored by Numbers: Inc. Magazine, Painting in the 21st Century at Site Gallery, and the Color of the Year Exhibition sponsored by Pantone. She was also included in New American Paintings MFA edition and South edition, both in 2018. Olinger holds a Masters of Fine Arts from the Memphis College of Art.
1. What are 1-3 books that have influenced your life? What are you reading or watching right now?
I mostly read interior design books. Because I work with pattern, I love to see how interior designers mix patterns in a space. The wilder the better!
As for the books that have most influenced my life, I have to be honest and say the Harry Potter series. I still pick them up and reread them all the time. Especially during stressful times, it’s nice to get lost in that world.
2. What are you currently working on? Are you able to create during the pandemic?
I have worked a lot during the pandemic. I have some large scale pieces I am working on and a body of prints.
3. How has failure set you up for later success? What was your favorite failure?
My early twenties were full of failures. I was basically trying on a bunch of different jobs to see how they fit. All of those jobs led me to fully committing to y art practice.
4. What is your most unusual habit?
I clean my house pretty much constantly. If my house isn’t clean, I can’t get to the studio. So I find myself cleaning a lot just so I can get some actual work done!
5. If you could have any painter, living or dead paint your portrait who would it be and why?
Gilbert Stuart, definitely! His unfinished portrait of George Washington might be my favorite painting.
6. What is the most indispensable item in your studio/workspace/office? Share an image of your studio.
I have a 2’ x 2’ piece of wood that has a particularly sharp edge on one side. I use it for tearing paper. I don’t know what I’d do without it. I also use sponges and magic erasers a lot.
7. When you feel overwhelmed or uninspired what do you do? What do you do to get out of a funk? What questions do you ask yourself?
Simply being in the studio will help me to get inspired. I don’t really believe in waiting for inspiration. If I start working on something, then inspiration usually follows.
8. What do you see as the artist’s role through this difficult time?
I think we have to keep creating. Either in commentary to what is happening in the world or as a respite from it.
9. Do you collect anything?
I collect art. My walls are covered in it. I trade with other artists friends mostly, but I try to buy at least one piece every year.
10. What words of advice would you give to artists during this time?
Don’t stop making! Don’t squander this time! Your practice can also keep you sane during a difficult time.
11. In the last five years what new belief, or habit has most improved your life or studio practice?
“Trust the process.” My graduate advisor used to say this to me all the time. I repeat it to myself often.
Also, knowing that there are inherent ups and downs in my studio practice has been helpful. Things come in waves.
12. Share an inspiring image.
This image is of Nathalie Farman-Farma’s London home. She is unafraid of pattern, and I look to her work often.
James May Gallery Dousman, WI
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