When it comes to the artwork of Olivia Daane, things are seldom what they seem. On the surface, her current body of work—a series of mixed media butterflies three years in the making—represents stunning renditions of beautiful creatures. But imbedded in each canvas are phantom images and poems revealing a deeper meaning. “The ghost images are usually of an endangered species to highlight the idea that creation happens at the same time things are being destroyed,” says Daane, an environmentalist whose love of language stems from her study of 16th-century literature. “I’ve always liked the use of words in my work, and each of my paintings comes with a document to help the owner unravel the hidden puzzle.” Daane creates and shows her butterflies at the LivAspenArt Studio, and, in 2006, she launched the LivAspenArt Gallery in an attempt to showcase emerging contemporary artists. “I wanted a place where people in Aspen could interact with artists from the Roaring Fork Valley,” she says. “The local population has been insanely receptive.”
LX: Who’s inspiring you now?
OD: Matisse has been a major influence. He wanted his art to be aesthetically pleasing but also have meaning or a question within the work.
LX: How do you marry your love of art and conservation?
OD: I am part of an all-female expedition, which includes Mariel Hemingway, to Mount Kilimanjaro for Climb for Conservation. Everyone going has an eco-related role, and I am the artist.
LX: Coming soon:
OD: My next project is songwriting. A whole switch for me, but it feels like painting with sound and rhythm.
LX: Words of wisdom:
OD: My art teacher Don Evans at Vanderbilt University said, “As an artist, you either do something or you don’t.”
LX: Eames or Mackintosh?
OD: Eames. I love the banana leaf parable.
LX: I always carry...
OD: A great pair of shades, a smooth pen, body lotion, gold Chanel eyeliner and Chanel No. 5. (My godmother gave me my first bottle for my thirteenth birthday.)