The Marriage
Computer print on canvas, oil paint, 3x6 ft.
© Maxine Olson, 1995-96

Statement · Biography · Bibliography

Maxine Olson

I was born Portuguese in a small rural farming town in the heart of the San Joaquin Valley, in Kingsburg, California. I was married twice at a young age, had two children, divorced at 39, and never married again.

In 1970 I returned to California State University-Fresno and the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles to get a degree in art. By 1975 I was teaching at various colleges and universities in my area. I have also taught at the Instituto Allende in Mexico and from 1986 to 1989 was given a three-year visiting artist appointment at the University of Georgia in Athens. During two summers there, I taught for the University of Georgia's Study Abroad program in Cortona, Italy. I currently teach full time at Kings River College in Reedley, California.

As an artist, I have exhibited my work in museums and galleries throughout the United States and Italy.

Much of the imagery in my work has been about the various stages and influences that have affected my life as a woman. In those early years growing up in a small town, there was a constant spirit of revolt against the narrow attitudes that existed in my community and within my old European upbringing. My life was lonely. Naturally, I turned inward and, as a result, found ways through my painting to release the boundaries of a small community and to communicate my feelings about the people I knew and resented. As a result of getting a degree in art, leaving town, and experiencing other worlds, I was allowed to see myself differently. This lead me to investigate my Portuguese ancestry.

Throughout the past 25 years, many of my paintings have been about women in various stages of life drawn from themes of social experiences in a small hometown. I also did a series on the male crotch which was a conceptual art piece reacting to the years men have commented on female sexuality. As time has passed, and as a result of traveling to places such as Mexico, Italy, England and Portugal, my work began to change.

In the last three years I have been doing digital images on paper and large canvases, combining the traditional medium of oil glazes over the canvas print. This new technology has allowed me to combine multiple images and objects from my past and present into work that combines the traditional with the digital.


Aging: The Process; The Perception. Catalog. Jamestown, NY: Forum Gallery, 1990.

City on a Hill: Twenty Years of Artists at Cortona. Catalog. Athens, GA: Georgia Museum of Art, 1989.

Comment. Catalog. Athens, GA: Nexus Contemporary Art Center, 1988.

"Gallery." Computer Artist Magazine October/November 1994.

"Gold Award." Art in California Magazine. December/January 1992/1993.

Hale, David. "Art Tells Women's Experiences." The Fresno Bee September 1992.

Hale, David. "Computer Art." The Fresno Bee: Spotlight 29 January 1995.

Hale, David. "Valley Artists Keep a Date with Culture." The Fresno Bee 2 July 1995.

"Images for the Ancestors." West Art 31.1 (1992).

Mathes, Pauline P. Bit of Sweden in the Desert. Fresno, CA: Pioneer Publishing Co., 1991.

Medina, M. Christina. "Artist Brushes up on Battle of Long, Long Ago." The Fresno Bee 16 July 1993.

Next Wave: Fresno Artists to Watch in the '90s. Catalog.

Review of work by Maxine Olson. The Fresno Bee Spotlight 9 June 1991. Cover and 11.

Treadwell, Nicholas. Sex: Female, Occupation: Artist. The Art of Contemporary Women. Catalog. Kent, England, 1984.

The West as Art: Western Art in California Collections, (1800-1982). Catalog. Palm Springs, CA: Palm Museum, 1982.

Who's Who of American Women. 20th ed. Reed Elsevier, Inc., 1997-98

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All images and text © Maxine Olson.