Artist of the Week: Olivia Stowell

Views 28 | Time to read: 3 minutes | Uploaded: 4 - 8 - 2019 | By: Phebe Chang

Through both theatre and various forms of written art, Olivia Stowell, a senior pursuing an English and Theatre double major, uses her expressions to find the truth of the world and people. “For me, art is self-expression (or soul-expression) in some kind of constructed form. Art is a way to get around to the truth, to go around the things that keep us from knowing and loving ourselves and each other.” Going deeper than the surface, Stowell wants to talk about her spirituality, the trauma of abandonment, the innate desire for human contact, and how everyone relates to each other. More than just theatre, acting, directing, and all the other parts of expression, Stowell prefers to use poetry as her medium to show the world a piece of herself. “A friend of mine once describes my artistic outlook as ‘100% spiritual exploration through body as poetry,’ and I think that’s a good way to put it.”
In her journey and relation with art, art has shaped her life in more ways than one. “Creation is a way that I feel close to God, and I think art is a way to feel known, both when you create and consume it. I love that art has that feeling of resonance, like when you can tell something lands in a way that’s deep and true, even before you totally understand it.” Theatre is an art through communication and physical expression. By using the body, the creator can show the viewer something they can see and understand with another person, emphasizing the relationship between what is being presented and what is being understood “Theatre… has given me a lot in terms of relationships.” By pairing this art form and poetry, she intertwines the abrupt communication of acting and the opaqueness of poetry. Poetry gives a more “texture and friction of meaning.” Stowell seeks for the intersections of where poetry and theater. “Art is ultimately a gift that lessens the gap between the mundane and the profound, making it so that arguably false binary breaks down.”
Westmont has given Stowell a complicated experience, filled with good memories littered with cultural and communal dilemmas. “I’ve been really blessed by beautiful and meaningful relationships…On the other hand, I think our community is broken in significant ways.” But Stowell shares her message in her productions. In her senior project was a piece of poetic theatre called “The Awful Rowing Towards God.” It was a production performed back in January, which used the early poems of T. S. Eliot and the later poems of Anne Sexton merged together into one script. Her goal was “to explore how we try and fail to connect with God and each other.” This piece was personal to Stowell in that it expressed a lot about herself and her personal journey with God that had a greater connection to those watching. More so than telling her story, she wanted her viewers to see “what it means to reconcile oneself to all things.”


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