Iconoplast by Erik Olson

On display July 26 – August 19, 2022

Using quilted plastic waste as his medium, Olson creates works that deal with the effects of consumerism, mass consumption and unfettered capitalism. By layering environmental issues with social justice messaging, his art emphasizes alienation from the environment and each other, willingness to waste, and the subsequent need for healing. By minimizing his carbon footprint in the creation of pieces and transcending the medium without denying what it is, Olson creates art that embodies Marshall McLuhan’s concept that “the medium is the message”.

Artist Talk at 5pm on August 6, 2022 in our Hanson Gallery.

About the Artist

Erik Olson grew up on a hog farm in northwestern Iowa where, at an early age, he realized his ability to make things out of whatever was readily available. After earning a degree in advertising design from Iowa State University, he moved to Minneapolis and began a 25-year career as a creative in the advertising industry. In his spare time, Olson experimented with different multimedia approaches to create art.

After retiring, he helped a friend brand a business that made functional items out of single-use plastic waste. He also helped source the used plastic and provided some initial assistance in product/process development. Knowing his propensity to create from whatever was available, Olson’s friend challenged him to use his design skills to create art from the leftovers of the manufacturing process. Olson accepted the challenge, took the “waste of the waste” home, and started making. Quilted plastic waste proved itself a viable medium.

Since 2009, Olson has won numerous awards, exhibited and sold art locally and nationally. He works out of his home studio in Plymouth, Minnesota, where he creates large-scale works by quilting plastic waste.

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