“I am an abstract painter who draws inspiration from natural phenomena – caves, volcanoes, lava flows, icebergs, glaciers, and, most recently, the aurora borealis.”
Olivia Petrides of Chicago, IL, is a painter and illustrator. She received her BA in American Literature from Kalamazoo College in Michigan and her MFA in Painting from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Petrides has been an Adjunct Associate Professor in the Painting & Drawing Department at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago since 1985. Her travels to Africa, Iceland, the Faroe Islands, France, Italy, Greenland, Alaska, and the American West have provided inspiration for her paintings and drawings.
“I am an abstract painter who draws inspiration from natural phenomena – caves, volcanoes, lava flows, icebergs, glaciers, and, most recently, the aurora borealis. Physically and metaphorically powerful, these phenomena convey the staggering beauty and terror that nature has inspired in us from the beginning. When I travel, I always begin by painting realistic watercolor studies in sketchbooks. Back in my Chicago studio, I unfurl rolls of watercolor paper on the floor, flood the paper with water and fling black ink onto it. The resulting explosive, organic shapes determine the composition of the work to follow and are a counterweight to the precision of the on-site watercolor studies. I then create surging movements of black and white marks and fluid gestures in response to the base layer of shapes. The result is a fissured, restless landscape in which there is no fixed viewpoint and no steadying horizon line.”
Petrides’ work was shown most recently at Indiana University Northwest, Gary, IN (2018); Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago (2017); Elmhurst (IL) College (2016); and Bridgeport Art Center, Chicago (2016). Her travels have been sponsored by awards from a range of organizations, and her art is included in many public collections, including Smithsonian Institution, United States Park Service, Chicago Field Museum, Carnegie Mellon University, Purdue University, and Iceland’s Hafnarborg Institute of Art.