Wk 9 – Artist Conversation – Vanessa Olivarez

Exhibition Information

Artist: Vanessa Olivarez

Exhibition: Don’t Be Careful, Be Gentle

Media: Video Installation, Sculpture

Gallery: CSULB School of Art, Dennis W. Dutzi Gallery

Website: Tokioni.com

Instagram: Tokioni

About the Artist

Vanessa Olivarez is currently an undergraduate student in her senior year at CSULB. Olivarez is pursuing her BFA in the School of Art’s Sculpture program. Vanessa likes to carry her camera whenever she goes to her favorite places in order to capture the moments. In the future, she hopes to work for an art gallery or open up a studio with her peers where the public will be allowed to create art.

Formal Analysis 

In order to enter the exhibition, one must go through black curtains. Upon entering the exhibition, one is greeted by a blue and pink atmosphere made possible by blue and pink lights. There is a video on the west wall that contains a myriad of short clips. Some of these clips include a ballerina music box, a word document that has the phrase, “fragile being”, a tree house and what appears to be a person in front of butterfly wallpaper. On the east wall, there is also a clips of the streets of Chinatown in NYC, a restaurant, and flashing yellow arrows. In between both of these video installations is a seesaw made out of transparent material that moves from one side to the other. The last piece in this exhibition can be found on the corner of the west wall. The item is an old TV encased in the same transparent material that the seesaw is made out of.


Content Analysis 

In her exhibition, Olivarez explores the idea of dealing with in- betweens and binaries as well as being an individual in the world. The two binaries represented in her exhibition are childhood and adulthood. The video depicting the ballerina music box and tree house represent childhood while the video with the streets of Chinatown and the restaurants are meant to represent adulthood. The seesaw in between childhood and adulthood is meant to represent the in between that one as an individual must try to balance. The seesaw is made to look like glass as that in between is very fragile and can be disturbed very easily.  In fact, the seesaw is constantly moving to provide a visual representation of how fragile it is. Lastly, the TV encased in the transparent material represents the place where Olivarez is currently in.

Synthesis/ My Experience

When I first entered into the exhibition, I was automatically intrigued by the atmosphere created by the pink and blue lights.  Although I wasn’t very sure what the exhibition was trying to portray, I found the short clips to be very aesthetically pleasing. However, after having a conversation with Vanessa, I understood what it was that she was trying to portray and I found it to be a very unique concept. She confided in us that because it is her senior year, she’s not very sure of what she wants to do with her life after college and I could definitely relate. A year ago today, I was distressed because I no longer wanted to be a Biology major, but I wasn’t sure what it was that I wanted to change my major to. At that time I was trying to find the in between of being happy and choosing a major that would lead me to a job where I could earn a decent living.  Fortunately for me, I was able to find that balance, but it does not mean that I don’t doubt myself sometimes.

Her exhibition also reminded me of the movie “The Little Prince” because the movie also touches on the balance between childhood and adulthood. To me, the moral of the story is that one can grow up and be a responsible all while never forgetting to dream and have fun as we once did as children. Balance is the key. In fact, balance is the key to a lot of things in life.

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