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Karin Olah

Raised in a rural area in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, Karin Olah has always been surrounded and fascinated by the domestic arts of quilting and textile traditions. “I love the implications of working with textiles,” she explains, “There is something very intimate and domestic about it.” As a result of her exposure to this, she studied Fiber Art at the Maryland Institute College of Art, followed by a few years managing a textile studio in New York City. During her work there, Olah developed colors and patterns for internationally renowned clients, including Donna Karan, Marc Jacobs, and Ralph Lauren.

After several years in this industry, Olah began to explore other artistic options within the medium of textile arts. Now she uses canvas, linen, paper, and fabrics in combination with paints to create complex and compelling mixed media collage paintings. Borrowing styles from quilt making, Abstract Expressionism, and aerial photography, her paintings present an amalgamation of traditions and inspirations in a complex and beautiful art form. Often inspired by the natural world around her in Charleston, South Carolina, Olah’s artwork echoes the geometry of farms seen from the sky, the shapely texture of clouds, and the blossoming, growing movements of flowers in the summer and spring. Instead of sewing her fabric to present these concrete and abstract themes, she uses techniques of layering, burnishing, and painting. Applying layers of textiles with an archival paste, she begins with an undercoat of light paint, followed by pencil drawings, and layering fabric and paint, overlapping and interwoven, up to five layers deep.

An exploration of material and abstraction, Karin Olah’s creations combine modern visual influences and the history of textile arts. The result has been very well-received and her art can be found in private and corporate collections including those of Citadel College, the City of Charleston’s Office of Cultural Affairs, and the Carolina Contemporary Collection of the Medical University of South Carolina. She has also been featured in popular publications such as American Contemporary Art, Art Business News, Charleston Style & Design, and Charleston Magazine.