Volume One Special Coverage: Pulling Together While Staying Apart


Colorless Stimulus

UWEC grad’s art show – “STIMULI.” – threatens to disconnect in black & white

Eric Christenson, photos by Tina Doffing

DO YOU SEE WHAT I SEE? Betsy Olaussen (above), a recent graduate from of UW-Eau Claire’s art program,  has created a custom art exhibit tailored for the Volume One Gallery. Below: a piece from the show.
DO YOU SEE WHAT I SEE? Betsy Olaussen (below), a recent graduate from of UW-Eau Claire’s art program, has created a custom art exhibit tailored for the Volume One Gallery. Below: a piece from the show.

Betsy Olaussen is a recent graduate from the art program at UW-Eau Claire. She’s currently living in Minneapolis and starting her career, while polishing a number of breathtaking works of art for her upcoming show “STIMULI.” –  the first show of its kind to display at the Volume One Gallery. Olaussen completely tailored the show to fit within the gallery space.

“STIMULI.” is all about wanting to completely disconnect when the screens, lights, and content that pervade today’s culture become overwhelming. We recently caught up with Olaussen as she’s gearing up for the show’s launch on Sept. 11.

Volume One: So you primarily do photography, right? What other media do you plan on busting out for this show?

Betsy Olaussen: Yes, I have a bachelor of fine arts with an emphasis in photography but I love working in many different media. For this show specifically I will also be including a 3D video/wood installation.

How do the installation pieces add to the exhibition?

I believe having a variety of media adds to any visual show. I am definitely a visual person so the more ways I can portray an idea the better.

The theme seems to be all about having our senses overwhelmed by stuff in today’s society, and the impulse to draw back from it. What do you think people can take away from that message?

I want people to take it however they want. In my work I try to be in the middle ground of any opinion, I try not to allow myself to pick a side. As far as the viewer, I would hope the work they are viewing makes them at least think on a deeper level. If anyone were to choose to change their lifestyle, for example making a phone call instead of sending a text to communicate, then that is wonderful.

Betsy Olaussen

What kind of emotions do you hope to capture in most of your pieces?

It is not so much about the emotions that the viewer would directly feel but I hope the viewer would get the feeling of realization or understanding and acceptance of our current state of society. I want the viewer to decide how they feel on their own and whether it is good or bad is up to them.

A lot of your stuff is in black and white, and obviously it illustrates great contrast. What draws you to that style?

I believe black and white is very matter of fact, it doesn’t allow for distractions. The high contrast allows the viewer to look at the detail and to distinguish the differences.

What is your process like? What all went into preparing for the show?

My process is very slow when it comes to finalizing ideas. I will think and turn over ideas a multitude of times before I finally begin to work on it. I like to envision what the whole process will look like all the way to how to work will look in the gallery. Once I have that solid idea I begin to make the work and adjust as I go for any changes.

What are you inspired by, and where do you see that in your work?

This is always a hard question because my inspiration changes daily. It all depends on what the work I am making is about. I am inspired by other people and what their interests are, different sources of light, and various photographers who also photograph in black and white. I am always searching for a concept in everything I see, this allows me to transform what I see into other objects and ideas.

“STIMULI.” by Betsy Olaussen will be up in the Volume One Gallery from Sept. 11 through Oct. 31. An opening reception will be held at the gallery from 6:30-8:30pm on Friday, Sept. 11.

Lasker Jewelers
Lasker Jewelers

Pulling Together Partners

The following organizations are currently supporting Volume One’s work in the community during the pandemic:

Lasker Jewelers

L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library, Eau Claire

Downtown Eau Claire Inc DECI

University of Wisconsin Eau Claire

Pablo Group

Wisconsin Independent Network

Middle West Management

Bon Iver

Royal Credit Union

Silver Spring

Evergreen Surgical

Charter Bank

Chippewa Valley Technical College

The Murty Henriksen Family

The Larry and Marie Past Family

The Dan and Kerry Kincaid Family

Anton and Rae Schilling-Smets

Brady and Jeanne Foust

If your organization is interested in supporting Volume One during this difficult time, nick@volumeone.orgcontact us.