The Divide is a collection that is deeply meaningful to me. This collection was started in 2016 and was finished in April of 2018. I have been extremely honored to exhibit this collection at Latela Art Gallery located in Washington D.C. I wanted to give an overview of each of these works individually and as a part of the whole series. You can view all these works in person at Latela on Saturday’s 10am-2pm or by appointment during the week. To schedule an appointment or to purchase one of these pieces please contact Marta Staudinger at marta@lateladc.com

Here is the general overview of the works and how each piece is tied in specifically to the theme. The whole series is a celebration of life and death. Over the past two-and-a-half years I’ve lost four family members and my college roommate to sudden deaths. These works are a memorial to their memories, a celebration of what they brought to the world, and a reminder to breathe deeply, live with thanksgiving, and give love generously.

The titles of each work are associated with a speech pattern my loved ones would say, or something relating to their memory in my mind. I will go through the works chronologically.

I lost one of my uncles to a quick and aggressive cancer in 2016. His passing was sad but the full weight of loss wouldn’t hit me till I would lose 3 more family members. Shortly after my uncle passed, my cousin went missing off of the coast of Hawaii while spearfishing. Her remains were never found. Our family searched and searched and searched for her only to be left without closure, forever wondering her fate. Her disappearance in the water was jarring and shook our family. I made the first few works in this series as a way to process the sudden and tragic nature of losing such a young life. The first three works were ‘Burning Me Up,’ ‘B before C’ and ‘Be Sure You Know.’

BurningMeUp_Web 

Burning Me Up, 30″x40″ acrylic and gold leaf on canvas in a gold floater frame.

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B before C, 16″x20″ acrylic and gold leaf on canvas in a gold floater frame.

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Be Sure You Know 12″x12″ acrylic and gold leaf on canvas in a gold floater frame.

After these pieces were completed I held on to them, though I didn’t know why. I had no idea that what was a mini-series would turn into a collection borne out of loss.

Several months later my aunt passed away, and still I was coping with it all. I didn’t add to this series yet. When my other uncle, the father of my missing cousin, fell ill with cancer and was dead in three weeks in the fall of 2017 it broke my heart. There was so much loss, so suddenly in this family that I knew I needed to start processing it all. I started working on these paintings as a way to process the grief and pay my respect to my lost loved ones in the only way I knew how.

I started with my aunt and created four small pieces with her in mind. ‘Remember Me’ #1 and #2 and ‘I Want to Be There’ #1 and #2.

 Olmstead_Remember_Me1WEB  

Remember Me 8″x8″ acrylic and gold leaf on canvas in a gold floater frame.

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Remember Me #2, 8″x8″ acrylic and gold leaf on canvas in a gold floater frame.

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‘I Want To Be There’ #1, 10″x10″ acrylic and gold leaf on canvas in a gold floater frame.

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‘I Want To Be There’ #2, 10″x10″ acrylic and gold leaf on canvas in a gold floater frame.

I then focused on remembering my two uncles who had passed. They were brothers and my mother’s only siblings. Because they are brothers and they both passed quickly and both from cancer they are very linked in my mind. They were my mom’s older brothers and both of them always kept me laughing with the crazy things they said. One of my uncles would always finish his sentences with, “yeah?” He would say something like, “we should go for a hike, yeah?” and that was always a funny speech mannerism of his that will always make me smile and think of him. One of these pieces is called, ‘Yeah?’ in memory of him. My other uncle always played in a goofy voice, he was so good at silly voices and sound effects. Whenever he and my uncle would make fun of my mom, or tease her he would say, “ohhhhh susyyyyy.” In this really funny way that is impossible to describe in the written word. The second piece is called, “Oh Susy” in honor of him.

  Olmstead_Yeah_WEB  

‘Yeah?’ 16″x16″ acrylic and gold leaf on canvas in a gold floater frame.

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‘Oh Susy,” 16″x16″ acrylic and gold leaf on canvas in a gold floater frame.

The last four paintings on canvas were made in March and April of 2018. This was when my good friend and roommate in college died in childbirth, leaving behind twin baby boys. Her passing reminded me of my cousins sudden disappearance. One moment here, the next gone, leaving so many in her wake. Because the losses reminded me of each other. I created two works simultaneously one in honor of my roommate, the other in honor of my cousin.

‘How Do I Look?’ was created for my  roommate, who used to ask me every day before she walked out the door, “how do I look?” You look amazing, dear friend.

Olmstead_How_do_I_Look_Web  HDIL_whitewallWEB

‘How Do I Look?’ 24″x30″ acrylic and gold leaf on canvas in a gold floater frame.

The second piece, ‘High Tide,’ was made for my cousin, because we lost her in the high tide.

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‘High Tide’ 24″x30″ acrylic and gold leaf on canvas in a gold floater frame.RT_HDIL_OnWallWEB
The last two works on canvas are the largest in the series. ‘Unto Ashes’ and ‘Let It Hold Your Hand’ are two works I made after my roommate passed to symbolize the huge gap my roommate left in the lives of her twin baby boys and as a tribute to their mother, my friend. Their titles are symbolic of the works as a whole. ‘Let It Hold Your Hand’ is about coming to peace with loved ones passing on. Death has felt like a constant companion and his presence is near and you just have to let him hold your hand without fear.

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‘Let It Hold Your Hand” 4’x6’ acrylic and gold leaf on canvas, unframed.

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‘Unto Ashes’ 4’x6′ acrylic and gold leaf on canvas, unframed.

As a part of this series I also did several works on paper, one series to symbolize life and the celebration of life, and the other to symbolize coming to peace with death. Here are samples of those works on paper. To see all of them visit the Originals Page.

  Olmstead_WebDivide2  BlueDivide3Web

The piece on the left is one of 7 works on paper that come framed in a glass floater frame. These works are acrylic and Rose Gold leaf on paper. They symbolize life.

The works on the right are blue divides, they are acrylic and gold on paper. They symbolize coming to peace with death.

These pieces have been instrumental in my healing process. What I hope to accomplish with this body of work is to turn my mourning into beauty for you. I hope that when you look at, and dwell with these peaceful paintings that you breathe deeper and hug your love ones a little tighter. I hope that wherever you find yourself on this journey of life that you take time to be thankful for something, or someone every single day. These pieces are about celebrating life and coming to peace with the unknown. Please do not hesitate to ask me if you have any questions.

You can view these works in person through the month of July at Latela Art Gallery on the weekends 10am-2pm, or during the week by appointment. To book an appointment or to purchase one of these works contact Marta Staudinger marta@lateladc.com 

If these works were meaningful and inspiring to you in anyway, I encourage you to share their message of life with others either on social media or in personal conversations,

Stay in touch and follow me on Instagram @christineolmstead Pinterest @christineolmstead Facebook @ceolmstead