#41 Marcia Oliver


Henry Martin: What, if any, responsibility, do you feel as an artist, in what way, or toward whom?

Marcia Oliver: Working for me is couched in contemplative experience. It seems to me that one should approach the work with an open and clear mind. I find that in the past, periods of quiet time, i.e. meditation before approaching the canvas helps to promote my process.


I suppose it’s the old issue of being “honest” or being totally “present”; being indifferent to commercial success or the desire for attention. Too often, works that are currently attended with celebrity strike a me as contrived.

Henry Martin: How do you work?

Marcia Oliver: I try to get my work space in order, so I can find the materials I need. I like to have several canvases primed and ready. Then I put out the paints, brushes, containers and solvents that  I think will be needed. Sometimes I sit for a while thinking or visualizing what I want to accomplish. I find that my preference is solitude, i.e. quiet. I will often return to a canvas over a period of several days or more before I feel like it is finished. I find that I now prefer to work during daylight hours.

Henry Martin: Should an artist be in the world, looking out, or outside the world, looking in?

Marcia Oliver: Both! We are all “in the world”.  But, to produce ones work requires a certain kind of “withdrawal” or detachment. It is necessary (at least for myself) to be able to disengage from “tasks of daily living” and reach into a more sublime place to relish the “world of the imagination”!

Henry Martin: Does your work come from the head or the heart?

Marcia Oliver: Both.

Henry Martin: What is the greatest challenge you face as an artist?

Marcia Oliver: It is to avoid the distractions of so many  natural  temptations.

Henry Martin: What is inspiration? How do you find it?

Marcia Oliver: My “inspiration” springs forth from within.

Henry Martin: What does the word gender mean to you within your practice?

Marcia Oliver: That is a curious question. I’ve always assumed that the creative process  was outside the perimeter of “gender”.

Henry Martin: Agnes Martin said, “We think we are very mundane, but we are all capable of fugues.” Respond.

Marcia Oliver: I  think Agnes was saying that we  underestimate our capacity  for  achievement.


Title: Tide Pool. Date: 2012. Dimensions:  60 x 60 inches. Materials: Water media on canvas. / Title:  Floating. Date. 2008. Dimensions: 50 x 60 inches. Materials: Oil on canvas. Credit: Marcia Oliver.


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