Trigger Warning: Suicide
Local Painter Olivia Tawzer is using her artwork to create intense and powerful narratives.
Olivia Tawzer is a painter who uses memories and emotions to create stunning works of art. She is a senior working toward her BFA in painting and drawing at UTC. Her works are deeply personal, describing her pieces as “narrative figurative paintings.”
Olivia’s main subject of her work is her father. After her father died from suicide in 2018, she looked to her paintings as a way to explore her grief and make sense of the situation. She draws inspiration from memories and stories of those who knew her father. Whenever the conversations begin, she tries to record them with her phone so that she may later use them as a source for new work. The countless stories about her father bring new ways for her to open up and explore the situation.
Currently, Olivia’s favorite project is her series called Gun Show. This series features paintings that involve memories and stories of her “dad using the gun that would eventually take his life.” Through this project, she attempted to “confront the casual acceptance of guns through an autobiographical lens as someone who has lost someone to suicide but has also partaken in recreational gun use.”
Olivia shared her process of creating her works. She believes that “being in the mood to work is over-rated.” She stated the importance of sometimes treating her art as a job and added that, while there are highs and lows of her process, both are necessary to run a successful practice. Within her studio, provided by UTC, she has found a great community. The students around her have become some of her closest friends. Constantly pushing one another, she stated that they are each other’s “biggest supporters and most trusted critics.”
Olivia hopes to continue with this type of work. She has recently found inspiration through her grandfather; she thinks about him often and how hard it must have been to lose a child, and she is interested in exploring the relationship she and her siblings have with their grandfather.
The most valuable advice Olivia has for artists is, “if you have an urge, follow it.” She highlights the importance of exploration and experimentation, and she suggests using resources such as artist talks and reaching out to other local creatives in order to become a better artist.