Presented by The Center
This America by Gisele Olson
Center Theater Gallery
June 17 - July 26
Opening Reception: June 17 | 5-6:30 pm
This America is an exhibition of postcard collages that work in conversation with the poem “Shine, Perishing Republic” (1924) by the modernist poet Robinson Jeffers to reflect on American egomania and ideas about escape and escapism. In his poem, Jeffers envisions the United States as a civilization on the brink of collapse, as evidenced by its widespread corruption and cultural narcissism. Using “Republic” as a springboard, I alter vintage U.S. postcards to create darkly humorous narratives that unravel the materials’ nostalgic, self-congratulatory mythos of “America” and both expand on and question Jeffers’s vision, in particular, his poem’s culminating notion of escape and disengagement as responses to societal problems. As well as exploring connections between collage and verse, my aim with this project is to hold a critical lens to, and offer moments of hope for, a nation one of our great poets prophetically saw as “settl[ing] in the mould of its vulgarity.”
Gisele Olson is an artist living in Jackson, Wyoming. She holds a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in English, and her background in writing and the study of literature is central to the emphasis on narrative, theme, wit, and wordplay in her meticulously constructed and deeply considered artworks. She is a recipient of a Wyoming Arts Council Professional Development Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts for This America. Her work is held in private collections across the United States as well as in the permanent collection of MERZ Gallery in Sanquhar, Scotland.