Olive Stefanski (they/them or she/her) is an artist exploring the meeting between the astral and the material. In the artist’s work, the laborious processes of weaving, spinning and dyeing become devotional practices through which they reckon with the existential reality of time and commune with the sacred, the mysterious or the unknown.
Stefanski’s practice nimbly moves between different pathways to exploring these spiritual concepts. In particular, their work addresses the wisdom of direct mystical experiences received throughout the artist’s life in the forms of amuletic visions, which relate to themes of protection from harm and the artist’s queer experience. Cosmologies of creation and Jewish divinity are explored through a feminist lens, through researching Jewish spiritual texts that address the multi-faceted nature of the divine, information that has been suppressed throughout history by patriarchal agendas. Other metaphysical experiences such as incessantly repeated dreams have shown the need to find a way to transmute ancestral grief and to communicate this reality through artwork. They have also addressed intimate moments of emotional transformation, related to ecstatic surrender, rituals of strength and compassionate interconnectedness.
Their weavings are abstract, richly colorful, highly textured, meditatively detailed and visually psychedelic, ranging in size from monumental to the size of a palm. These weavings are created with tapestry techniques and original pattern drafting, handwoven on floor and frame looms, crafted with handspun yarn spun on a wheel and drop spindle and dyed with indigo, cochineal and other natural dyes. The artist uses craft based techniques to create art objects, challenging both spoken and unspoken hierarchies of creating within art history. Their work asserts an anti-assimilationist and queer perspective that values ancestral, spiritual, and intuitive ways of knowing and perceiving.