In his upcoming artist talk, "Layers," at MING Studios Thursday, Jan. 12, he will use a laptop and projector to walk the audience through how he creates artworks made from digital images stacked atop each other. The results are abstractions that stimulate the imagination. Some of Olsen's works contain as many as 50 layered images.
Olsen said his process is cathartic and healing—a way to bounce back from "many years of slow incapacitation." For almost a decade, he said, he suffered from depression that slowed and sometimes halted his production of art. Layering digital images to create art was both a way to produce new work, and recreate and deconstruct his struggle with mental illness.
"The analog is that what happens with depression isn't an immediate thing: It's a long-term process as habits are formed and broken over years and years," Olsen said. "In the same way, watching this process unfold is taking that back and gaining that momentum for the positive."
"Layers" is a tutorial on a method for making art that Olsen developed himself—and he said he doesn't "need to talk about my triggers," though it can be a path forward for people who find themselves stuck in a rut.
The event is set to take place amid MING's current exhibition, Holding What Can't Be Held, a group show exploring "clean-up sites" at Idaho National Laboratory. Olsen said there's "no intersection" between "Layers" and the exhibition.
The artist talk begins at 7:30 p.m. and is free to attend.