About Demetrius Oliver

Orrery 11

Orrery, 2011


Demetrius Oliver has become known for creating elegant, improvisatory, site-specific installations using photography, sculpture and video to record the act of sidereal observation itself. His work draws heavily on a variety of disparate intellectual interests related to interpreting phenomena, including American transcendentalism, music of the spheres, and the history of cosmology, weaving them into spectacular, cohesive works of self-exploration and expression. Relying on ordinary materials and found imagery, Oliver creates artwork that brings visual form to the processes of exploration and experimentation referencing musical, scientific and literary materials. In recent years, Oliver’s work has grown increasingly subtle, revisiting similar or identical imagery and materials again and again, with each iteration resulting in a new composition. Many of Oliver’s works have included celestial imagery, metaphorically linking the moon (which is associated with the metal silver) and the silver process of traditional photography. For each exhibition opportunity presented to him, the artist has created a new piece, moving gracefully between media; he is gradually building an increasingly complex and resonant body of work. Recent projects and exhibitions by Oliver include Orrery (2011), an installation at D’Amelio Terras, NY, featuring a sculpture in the form of a mechanical model of the solar system constructed from suspended umbrellas carrying various materials collected from the artist’s studio and home. At Light Work in Syracuse, NY, the artist created Penumbra (2011), a series of three video installations. For Manhattan’s High Line, Oliver created the billboard work Jupiter (2010), featuring five round photographs exposing mysterious acts and props, set against a solid, black background and resembling a planet floating in a night sky. The visual component was accompanied by weekly live performances of the John Coltrane composition Jupiter and was on view for a complete lunar cycle, from the beginning of a new moon to the end of its final quarter. Oliver received a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design and an MFA from the University of Pennsylvania before attending the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. His work has been included in a number of recent significant group exhibitions, including 30 Seconds Off an Inch, Studio Museum in Harlem (2009) and Black Is Black Ain’t, Renaissance Society, University of Chicago (2008). He is currently a lecturer at Princeton University and lives in New York City. Demetrius Oliver introduces his body of work through his new website, ALMANACK.

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