We had the good fortune of connecting with Marie Olson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Marie, what role has risk played in your life or career?
I think risk-taking is so important for anyone, and for artists it might be really pertinent. Risk-taking has played the role of moving me forward or into unexpected directions, sometimes when I wanted to dig my heels in and hide! I think that the most important thing that taking risks has shown me has to do with fantasy and imagining. As an artist, and a human, I spend lots of time in my own story of reality. Sometimes I sit and imagine how future events might play out, what a drawing or painting could look like, how a relationship or a story might unfold. This daydreaming is lovely or awful, depending on my own personal invention. I think about taking risk in terms of taking action. Without action, we can all be wonderful or horrible artists, dancers, CEOs, chefs, or people! Action is what makes it so, what gives a frame of reference. One major risk we take over and over when we try is that we won’t like where we are in reality. What I have learned is that even that possibility is good because it reveals to me where I’d like to be, where I’d like to go, and I can take action steps and more risks along the way.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
What excites me about my work is that I make visual with different mediums depending on the commission piece, yet also as therapeutic mediums for myself and others. My visual art is my way of expressing my experience (thought, emotion, physical sensation) and making sense of life. To get to be a paraprofessional therapist, a student art therapist, and a professional artist has been a long windy road. Seemingly the biggest challenge has always been managing time to devote to my many interests while completing requirements of school and maintaining my relationships. Because of this challenge I have learned to shamelessly invest in what brings me joy, the people who are important, and the skills that I want to have a year from now. Also, while subjectivity suits my personality type, it has been challenging to cultivate a sense of identity while being a therapist and commission artist where I see the world through an endless number of perspectives. I have learned to embrace this way of being and have developed mindfulness meditation as my favorite and most important skill. The services I offer combine mindfulness and visual expression, whether you are sitting with me in therapy or hanging a piece I’ve made on the wall.
Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
I am somebody who is always looking for a pleasant place that I can post up and write or sketch. Otherwise I want to be feasting my eyes or ears on something inspiring, or maybe swimming around and climbing on some rocks. I would show anyone to Tempe Center for the Arts – it is a stunning building overlooking Tempe town lake, with open mics, plays, performance art pieces, intriguing storytelling, visual art, and a bar serving local beer and liquor. For food I would want to take them for Pho Thuan Thanh in Mesa, Cornish Pasty Co. in Tempe, and Federal Pizza, Welcome Diner, Harumi Sushi, or Hula’s Modern Tiki in Phoenix. Lost leaf has great atmosphere for getting drinks and watching live music, and the Van Buren downtown has quickly become a favorite of mine for concerts. For coffee, my all time favorite place to post up in Arizona is Songbird Coffee and Tea. I love to take people rock climbing, so we would probably end up going to Phoenix Rock Gym. I might even take them to Golfland Sunsplash, where I had my first job ever as a life guard! Some of the rides are actually ridiculously fun yet there are various swimming holes in Northern Arizona which are my preferred place to hang out and draw scenery after going for a swim. Lets be real there is nothing quite like wildlife so we’d be going to Veteran’s Oasis Park, the salt river, or the Riparian preserve at some point! Finally, I will drag people out for hiking in the Superstition wilderness until the day I die.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I want to give credit to my parents who are both artistic! My mother especially, because of her own love of painting she started a mural business when I was young. Of course, she painted the kids bathroom and our bedrooms with forests, gardens, animals, Calvin & Hobbs, whatever we wanted. It was such a joy growing up and watching her create scenes in people’s homes from paint, it looked like magic to me. It was her that taught me how to shade when I was learning to use graphite as a young girl. My father helped to fill my mind with possibilities. He often told us stories, he brought characters like Pecos Bill and the tooth-fairy to life. His interest in the supernatural, in sci-fi stories and historical figures encouraged me to open my mind. Their encouragement of my love for making art is so important to my story, and similarly to my brothers stories I imagine, one who i a visual artist and musician, the other who is a writer. There are hundreds of people who have supported and encouraged me, right now I want to shout out the staff I worked with at downtown Art Awakenings, a non-profit organization I worked with where I met and bonded with a rich community of artists, I had the opportunity to learn and teach. The artists who were there at the time have been deeply inspirational on my journey.