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It is as if the seductive, often witty and at times provocative work of American artist Olivia Steele is constantly pinching our flesh, crying “Wake up sleepyhead, life is now!” Steele scrawls phrases like “Everything You Can Imagine Is Real” and “I Like Where This Is Going” in large neon tubes she displays (preferably) in the great outdoors. Cool slogans become beacons in the urban or rural landscape, speaking in tones from soothing to confronting, from touching to daring. There are questioning ones, like “What Are You Looking For?” As well as affirming phrases such as “There are Far Better Things Ahead Than Any We Leave Behind.” What they imply is up to the spectator to decide. “My art is not about what I see. It’s about whatI invite you to see,” she says.

With her illuminated observations, Steele probes the existential questions surrounding life and death, hope and despair, love, belonging and faith – often in a strikingly chirpy manner. Inspiration strikes during recurrent visits to flea markets and can be anything from a rugged suitcase to a vintage needlepoint textile or a religious relic. She then applies her words to it. Steele splits her time be- tween Berlin and Tulum, Mexico – if

she’s not participating in an art festival that is. This year, for the 8th time, she is a contributor at the Burning Man festival in Nevada, but her art feels at home too in more established venues like Art Miami.



Photography Olivia Steele

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