I've just walked into artist Olivia Wendel's Brooklyn studio-slash-apartment, and already I'm confronted with R-rated activity. Pinned to the wall of the living room is "Wood Into Water," a 50-inch-by-50-inch painting of contorted, prancing nude figures against a mesmerizing patterned background. It's entrancing and chaotic, a celebration of human nature and its propensity to engage in sin.
"I grew up in Pennsylvania in a house that was haunted," Wendel tells me. That explains it.
"Being a twin," she says, "I've always been fascinated by duality and questions of identity. Even my early childhood experience of seeing ghosts really plays into my work, because there's always a sense of being in limbo between the past and the present, this world and other worlds."
But while Wendel's work—which she prints onto silk scarves—is haunting in a way that's hard to put your finger on, it's not frightening. (There's an important distinction between the two.) In fact, it's joyful, expressive, and uninhibited.
Take a tour of the artist's studio below, and rethink the way you explore your identity.
The Studio We Want to Stay All Day In
Fun fact: Her twin sister gave her that tiger rug.
The Artist at Work With *Unusual* Tools
Note to self: Trade in all ballpoint pens for quill and ink.
The Most Mesmerizing Etching We Saw All Day
Her "Wild" scarf is a print of an etching.
The Scarves That Double as Art
Wendel makes her illustrations the same size as her scarves so they have the same attention to detail.
The Apple Doesn't Fall Far...
"It's probably something that's infused in me whether I like it or not."
The Secret to Getting Out of a Rut
Collaging, visiting a museum, and going to a dance performance—sounds like our perfect day.
The Hidden Talent That's an Artform All Its Own
Believe it or not: You can DIY your own (real) pineapple.