Artist Statement

Artist Statement

Karen Olson

Conceptual portraiture ~ Visual storytelling

How important I feel that is!

To tell our stories … what moves us, motivates us,

makes us squirm or energizes us.

Early in my photographic career, I realized that the camera was a powerful tool for processing emotion. Not only was I able to express myself clearly but creating certain types of imagery allowed me to dig deep into my psyche.

The work I do today was prompted by a young woman whom I had been working with incorporating a human touch in my still life imagery and product photography. She asked me to photograph her expressing emotion. She felt she was ‘hiding behind a mask’ and wanted a way to show her true self. The result was a powerful and beneficial “art as therapy” experience. This is the reason I have chosen photography as my medium and conceptual portraiture and visual storytelling specifically. It can best represent our struggles, our fears, our realities … human emotion with all its intensity and complexity. It has become my life’s work.

Each photoshoot is carefully planned with location, costume, and content in mind. But I always allow for sparks of imagination and creative connection between myself and the model. It is collaboration in the truest sense. Actually, I craft the environment to allow for maximum creative flow. The model is relaxed and feels free to express herself. In this way, I capture honest expressions in both the body and the face. While editing, I layer digitally captured light sculptures and works in paint and ink along with conceptual portraits. The process I developed allows me to depict the language of the subconscious mind and emotional experience in a unique way. The imagery has a reflective quality both in form and content, offering introspection and contemplation. It allows the viewer to visualize deep, personal feelings and acts as a catalyst for conversation, a prompt to tell our stories.

How important I feel that is! To tell our stories … what moves us, motivates us, makes us squirm or energizes us. We need to talk freely about what we have been through or yet hope to do. We need to feel heard and companioned.
“We need to make it just as normal to talk about our pain as it is to talk about our joy.”

Please … tell me your story.


Quote from ‘’It’s Ok That You’re Not Ok” by Megan Devine.

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