We had the good fortune of connecting with Piper Olivas and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Piper, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
I think this question is especially relevant to this past year during the pandemic. For the first time in my adult life, I’ve had to really slow down, almost entirely. It’s been extremely difficult, because it’s like, you’re driving your car and suddenly the car starts to break down, and eventually you have to pull over and get out and realize the car isn’t going to get you anywhere anymore. That’s kinda where I’m at right now. I was studying full-time to get my art degree, all while working a full-time job and doing an internship- and preparing for a solo show. Then Coronavirus hit and everything shut down and I thought, well who am I without all this work, what’s my identity without outside factors? So I was forced to look within if that makes sense. I suddenly had so much time to really think about my life and future and realize I never had a true balance between myself and work, to begin with. Now a year later I’m really starting to learn the true meaning of balance, and how important it really is for growth. Work and education are so important, but it’s also good to realize we have importance outside of this mindset that we need to hustle and grind and jump in the cycle of existing to make money or have success.
Now that I’ve learned how to slow down, I’m making art at my own pace again and trying to find the root of that passion. I’m not creating with the intention of making money, but for myself. It’s a much slower pace, but I’m spending more time exploring the root of myself and who I am at the core. So to answer the question, I think it’s so valuable to find a balance between work and creating, and just taking time to breathe and take care of your body. There’s this book called “How to Not Always Be Working” by Marlee Grace that is a great read.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Well, I feel like now my art is always changing. At first, I really wanted to be a fine art photographer when I was pretty young. I was always bad at math and the idea of going to University was daunting. Towards the end of high school, I started thinking about how photography could overlap with painting and sculpture. During my time at school, I studied weaving, ceramics, writing, and printmaking. I started to sort of stray away from photography. As I approached the end of my studies I realized I really wanted to make one-of-a-kind photographs, mixed media works. I really wanted to break my photography out of the traditional presentation and also didn’t want it to just exist as something to post on Instagram. I struggled with branding myself as an artist on social media and was discouraged by the importance of marketing yourself that way. I think I’m realizing now that I don’t have to do that, social media is a form of exhibitionism and isn’t necessary to feel fulfillment as an artist.
I’m excited about continuing to explore sculptural photography and nontraditional elements. That kind of thing isn’t really encouraged in art school, they want you to print a photograph and hang it on the wall. Or get great at editing digital work. That was always hard for me in school. I think it goes back to just being yourself, making art because you love art. Trying to avoid doing things because you feel like you need to stay relevant or important, not because you genuinely want to.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I like the ocean the most, especially Topanga. I think that’s one of the best parts of being in Southern California, how we have so many amazing beaches. I would probably suggest visiting galleries such as Steve Turner, Night Gallery, Blum & Poe, LACMA has an amazing Yoshitomo Nara show up right now. I would also say let’s go to a drive-in movie theater or a movie at Hollywood Forever cemetery. Right now I really like Pine & Crane, Howlin’ Ray’s & Guisados for food. Tilda Wine is a great spot for a drink or Bar Flores. There’s so much, it would honestly depend on the friend coming to visit!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I always had such a strong family support system, I was lucky that my parents supported my intentions of studying and pursuing art, they both made sure I never doubted the path I was on. Aspen Mays & Georgina Reskala are two mentors I had that were really fantastic to have during my final year at University, I owe them both for keeping me motivated and for pushing me to always strive to be better. As well as my writing mentor John Wilkins who helped me explore my interest in writing art reviews. Lastly, all the gallerists and artists I’ve worked with who continuously motivated me, and saw my potential, even when I wasn’t sure of it myself.
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