Olivia Pendergast is both a landscape and a portrait painter. She starting painting at the age of four. Raised on a farm in the mountains of North Carolina she was always encouraged to paint and to follow in the footsteps of her Grandfather and Uncle, both artists too. Formally trained at the Columbus College of Art and Design she achieved a Bachelors Degree in Fine Art.
“Each portrait is an attempt to reconnect or re-experience the unconditional feeling that is experienced when meeting a person face to face. Being in the moment while painting and not being of time, everything is experienced as the same. There is no boundary between me and other. This has been my practice over my career: the pain and beauty of each portrait, without turning away and without gasping; facing it and allowing [my]self to be moved by what is felt.”.
Many of her portraits are products of her work with boys living on the streets, often with references to plants in the background, she says “for example, Dandelions help to remove toxic elements from the body. As these beautiful kids live in a toxic environment, I want to surround them with the beauty that will replace that toxicity.”.
She has exhibited dozens of times in her home country and more recently in Ethiopia, Dubai, Rome and Spain. She exhibits regularly at One Off Contemporary Art Gallery, Nairobi, Kenya and has recently concluded 'Emerge' a highly successful show at Out of Africa Gallery in Barcelona. In 2010 she exhibited at Utah Museum of Fine Art for their 'Gala Invitational.'.
Her works are collected by H.E. Uhuru Kenyatta, President of the Republic of Kenya and Art Access Gallery; Salt Lake City County; Park City Mountain Resort and Juniper Sky Gallery; all of the USA..
a u r a : an emanation surrounding the body of a living creature and regarded as an essential part of the individual.
When I was a kid I thought seeing light around people and animals and trees was normal. I thought everyone could see auras. These halos of light moved and changed in size and density under different circumstances. Growing up on a farm I could lay on my back and watch the aura flow around trees like water in a stream. They were particularly visible around my teachers because as they would stand against the chalk boards the patterns of light showed up nicely against the dark background.
When I was in my twenties I played a game with a friend who also could see them. We would take turns standing against a dark wall. First, I would imagine a joyous occasion and without telling him I would change my thinking to a sad or heavy time. The aura would shift and become more condensed, lying closer to my form. He could see the change in the field of light. Then it was my turn and I could see the same, the light move like water expanding and condensing around his head and shoulders.
It was then that I realized that this was not an imagined or created effect by the eyes or in my brain. It is actually something that is there, always there, that only some people can see.
I have been able to feel colors since I was a kid. That is how I can remember them so well. If I see a color, I can go home and copy it almost exactly from my palette, mixing the colors needed to find the exact feeling in my body. Being able to feel colors is called Synesthesia.
Some scientists say the experience of seeing an aura around people may also be a result of the neuropsychological condition called Synesthesia. Synesthesia is a fascinating condition which causes a cross-wiring of the senses. People with it find they can taste numbers or associate particular colors with certain people.
Seeing auras makes it obvious we are all cut from the same cloth. It is like a validation for the unconditional love that I experience when painting. We are all the same.
I recently visited Rome and the Vatican Museums. Most halos, I saw, only existed at the top of the compositional triangle. Only the holiest of the holy and the whitest of the white were deserving of the recognition of this God - like "emanation...that is essential to the individual". But that isn't the truth. Everyone has it whether it is visible or not...It is the same as Love. It is there whether we can see it or not.
Olivia Pendergast – Nairobi – January 2019