Harold Olejarz began his career as a sculptor. He worked in wood, creating sculptures ranging from abstract waves to figural sculptures inspired by Greek sculpture. He was active in the Soho cooperative gallery movement and exhibited at 14 Sculptors Gallery in the late 1970’s and 1980’s. At the same time, he also reviewed Soho art gallery exhibitions for Arts Magazine.
In the late 1980’s and 90’s Olejarz created wearable sculptures and began an active career as a Performance Artist. He installed himself, as a work of art, on the streets, in museums and public spaces across the country. Olejarz performed and exhibited in numerous festivals, galleries and museums including the New Museum, The Newark Museum, The Morris Museum and The Jersey City Museum.
Digital imaging has fascinated Olejarz since 1990 when he first explored image manipulation with early digital tools like ColorIt! and early versions of Photoshop. Olejarz’s early digital images included a series of scanned images in which he used his hands and objects as “performers” on a flatbed scanner. These images created a bridge from Olejarz’s performance work to his digital imagery. Also, Olejarz was awarded a public art commission by NJ Transit. For this commission he created two etched glass block windscreens, that are installed at the Pavonia/Newport Light Rail Station in Jersey City.
Recently, Olejarz has been exploring digital image making outside of the rectangular frame. He uses his photographs as source material for creating circular, collaged images that repeat and rotate slices of photographs. The images suggest mandalas and kaleidoscopes. Bikes, CAR$, Flora, Fauna, Masks, Minerals and Places are the themes he is presently working on.
My first interest as an artist was in sculpture, I created tangible, three-dimensional objects and worked almost exclusively in wood. I began a series of wave sculptures made of wood as an undergraduate student at Brooklyn College . I enjoyed working with wood because I found that while wood was easy for me to cut and shape into waves. Wood also had a structural integrity that allowed me to build with it. I cut and laminated boards together and then used a grinder to shape and refine the wave forms. As the work developed the waves became more and more abstract. Soon, I believed that a wave was anything that expressed a rising and falling movement.
In 1985, while I was working on a life-size static figure sculpture based on a classical Greek sculpture, I realized that if I could put myself into my sculpture and create a sculpture that I wore, I could install my sculpture anywhere. This was the start of a performance art project that grew and developed over the next ten years. In that time I would wear sculptures I made and install myself, my art, in various museums, galleries and urban environments. The museum self-installations were unannounced visits to a museum wearing my sculpture. I simply walked into a museum wearing a sculpture. Once in the museum, I would install myself in a gallery and interact with the art on exhibit.
Digital Imaging - Kaleidoscopic Pinwheel Images
There is a kaleidoscopic, puzzle-like aspect to my images that make them engaging. For me, a photograph is a building block. I edit, duplicate and rotate a photograph to create a constructed image composed of many copies of the original photograph. The images evoke pinwheels, kaleidoscopes, mandalas and ammonites. They encourage the viewer to delight in the repetition and patterns revealed in the constructed image.
The process of creating my digital images is, at its heart, experimental. I use a photograph I have taken of a building, an art object or landscape and edit the image. Then I repeat and rotate the image.The patterns evolve as the image is copied, repeated and rotated. I take great pleasure in seeing a constructed image evolve and come into being. When the circle is complete, I once again experiment with different ways to “finish” the image. I may rotate the image or edit different layers in the image to reveal a different aspect of the constructed image. I may also copy the “pinwheel” and rotate it so that it reflects and/or doubles the original image.