Connie Norman
Connie Norman

Michael Olson –Artist interview & Studio Inspiration


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Mike and Matt flint (see Matt’s interview) and I will be having a show at Funke Fired Arts late November of 2011.  More details will be coming later. 

I applied to exhibit at Funke Fired Arts in Cincinnati, Ohio.  I was lucky enough to get accepted, but I was offered an interesting proposal, to curate a show.  I invited Matt Flint and Mike Olson to show with me.  The three of us are working toward the theme of contextual geography, using the ideas of text texture and conjuring the landscape.  It will a Wyoming show in Ohio.

Mike teaches at Casper College in Casper, Wyoming.  His students are very lucky to have him, he is so generous, always ready to judge the Wyoming State Art Symposium, which is a daunting task, give bowls to Empty Bowls, and have a show with me.  I am really looking forward to showing with him and Matt, I think it will be a very exciting show. 

Mike Olson’s email:

Tell us a little about yourself!

I grew up in many different places because of government-employed parents, spending about two years in a place before moving again. My time in India was the biggest influence on my childhood; I turned seven shortly after moving there and was almost twelve when we left. My first attempts at college were not productive, so I joined the Army for a couple of years to figure things out, which I quickly did. I settled in Wyoming after the military and have only left to attend undergrad (University of North Dakota) and graduate school (Wichita State University). I met my wife, Amber, in grad school. In 2004 we moved to Casper and started our family with our first daughter, India. Our son Søren and younger daughter Aria are the other two gems of the clan. I am the full-time Ceramics Instructor at Casper College and have a large private studio, Dusty Road Studio, we are building out of an old horse barn.

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How did you become an artist?

I have always been involved in art and would not have thrived in school without it. I moved often and art was the constant motivator for me in education.

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What is your inspiration for your pieces?

I would have to say that humankind’s mysterious beginnings and traveling through the landscape are two of my biggest inspirations. Early technologies and archaeology fascinate me; natural history museums and personally visiting sites around the world have had profound influences on me. Watching the landscape while traveling at any speed or altitude is a meditation I relish. Movement causes a separation of time and everyday thought and lets me reflect in a comfortable, controlled fashion. Throwing on the wheel with the clay moving before me, my eyes on the horizon, mimics this separation I so enjoy.

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What do you create? Where do you get your inspiration for your ceramics?

I work primarily in clay but vary from straight functional stoneware and porcelain to sculptural pieces. I prefer the natural and random patinas of atmospheric firing for finishing my work, and prefer primarily wood firing because of the communal effort and hard work it takes to fire the big kilns. Primitive technologies/art and the firing process influence the work a great deal, but many things from our world inspire me. Reading books and magazines, film, television, music, animals and nature – anything can create ideas for ceramics and art.

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What has been the most effective way for you to promote your art?

I don’t actively promote myself. I have an annual holiday sale at my studio and the amount of exposure I get from word of mouth is sufficient for me at this time.

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What is the most important thing you’d like people to know/understand about your work?

I work because I love it.

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What keeps you motivated?

The ideas and exploration plus the love of the medium are my biggest motivators.

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How do you manage being an educator, Father and artist?

I am attempting to be a juggler, doing the best I can with the time I have, without getting frustrated when there is not enough. It’s challenging but rewarding. I am learning a lot about being a patient human.

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What or who inspires you?

My wife, children, students and life keep it interesting, challenging and a constant joy.

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Are you a full-time artist?

I am a full-time artist, but I do not create work full-time.

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How does your creative process work?

Primarily sketchbook work to hash out ideas, with short intense bursts of productivity.

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Thanks Mike, for taking the time to be interviewed.  I can’t wait for our show at Funke Fired Arts.

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3 Responses to “Michael Olson –Artist interview & Studio Inspiration”

  1. kris Says:

    i love to read these interviews! thank you, mike, for inviting me to the woodfire at casper college a few years ago after symposium. the bird-boat shape in intriguing. i wonder what size it is?

  2. Daryle Dickens Says:

    I really enjoyed that interview and I really like how it was formatted. Glad I found it.

  3. Connie Says:

    Thank you for visiting the blog. I will be posting another great interview with Jim Gottuso, in a few days. I hope you return to read. Also, I’m looking forward to reading your blog. It looks very interesting and helpful for artists. I’ll have some time today to read some of your posts.