In 2019, painter Olive Ayhens began conversations with printmaker Janis Stemmermann to make a print. This resulted in a single color linoleum block print, printed in March 2020 in an edition of twelve. Olive had been working on a group of drawings and paintings called Ur-Beasts, and this print, entitled Ancient Critters came from that series of works. Feeling extremely fed up with humans and their seemingly constant violent actions, Olive went deep into time to investigate the mammals that came before us, and no longer exist. We feel the immense weight of this project today.
In this intense time of the COVID-19 pandemic, police brutality, protest and the revealing of racism in the roots of every institution in America, we have all been thinking. Thinking about our internalized racism, how to do better, how to act better, how to care at this time for our vulnerable loved ones. The extreme importance of this thinking gives way to a better understanding of what is going on and our place in it. We must also turn this thinking into action.
We are excited to announce that 20% of the proceeds of each numbered print will be given to Project EATS, a Brooklyn based non-profit program founded by artist and activist Linda Goode Bryant. Using art, urban agriculture, partnerships and social enterprise, Project EATS works with Black and Brown communities to sustainably produce and equitably distribute fresh food and produce. It is time we usher in fundamental changes. Click here to view print details.
Ancient Critters was originally curated as a small exhibit at Russell Janis together with some of Olive’s drawings and paintings from Ur-Beasts. It had been scheduled for April 2020 but due to COVID-19, we moved the exhibit online, including audio of Olive speaking about how the series came to be.
Olive Ayhens paintings and watercolors available through Bookstein Projects, New York.
“Olive Ayhens virtuoso paintings in watercolor and oil could not be more embedded in our present moment of climate crisis. Yet, the theme of the collision of nature and humans, of the beauty of nature and our power to extinguish it, has been the main focus of Ayhens’ work for many decades.”
-Susan Platt (excerpt from Olive Ayhens 2019 catalog published by Bookstein Projects, New York)