Bobbie Olson

Artist Statement

Bobbie Olson has a diverse artistic background. In an effort to dissolve the boundary between art and design, she has based her professional career on the premise that a good artist can design anything… from plazas and parks, to costumes and prints. With an interior design degree from the University of Manitoba, she spent many years in the realm of corporate design, including several creative years in Kenya where every aspect of each project had to be custom designed, and locally manufactured. A steep learning curve in the field of Landscape Architecture, led to innovative years as principal in the firm of O2 Planning + Design, where she was responsible for conceptual landscape design as well as graphics for this award-winning firm.


After 20 years as a designer in the commercial/digital realm I have downshifted to embrace a slower means of expression. I have found that the edge that exists at the boundary between art and design is an extremely creative zone. Utilizing the basic concepts of my design training, but embracing the expressive freedom of an art practice, I have returned to the hands-on world of fibre art + textile design. My work utilizes structure to provide the framework for creativity… through the use of grids, patterns, as well as a limited almost monochromatic colour palette. In nature as in art, diversity thrives on basic structural constraints. The web of a spider, the honeycomb of the bee, the molecular structure of a leaf, all use their unique framework to support distinct activities and processes. Constraints can in fact be liberating… the implied rhythm can suggest the evolving and repeating patterns in the natural environment. Influenced by my knowledge of the environment gained as a landscape designer, and drawing on the parallel tension between man-made and natural processes, my work is informed by these two seemingly disparate but related worlds. The diversity of textiles and the endless techniques that can be applied to them make fabric the perfect medium for my explorations. Blurring the boundaries between art and design will hopefully allow me the opportunity to adopt the ‘beginner’s mind’ mode to which Steve Jobs attributed his visionary creativity.


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