WMU alum's abstract art comes full circle in CHHS exhibition

Contact: Mark Schwerin
Photo of Mark Olson's abstract art

Photo of Mark Olson's art

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—The work of a self-taught, abstract artist who graduated from Western Michigan University is on exhibit at his alma mater.

Mark Olson's work is on display through Thursday, Dec. 18, in the College of Health and Human Services second floor art gallery, where a reception is set for 4 to 6 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 2. The reception is free and open to the public with free parking available in Lot 104.

A diverse background

Olson is an artist with a diverse background. After graduating from WMU with a master's degree in applied mathematics, he worked as a software engineer. He then co-founded an information technology consulting company in West Michigan and also a coaching and training company focused on helping athletes and health-conscious people reach their fitness goals.

Olson had a strong interest in abstract art throughout his life but did not explore "being an artist" until his late 30s. He then taught himself to paint, researching artists such as Pollack, Rothko, Kline and Richter--and setting up a studio in his dining room. This simple beginning quickly escalated into an intense need to paint.

"My work is inspired from three different sources: nature, mathematics and what I call a mindscape," Olson says. "From nature and mathematics come colors, structures and order; and from mindscapes come layers and arrangements of chaos and randomness."

Except for commissioned works, Olson's goal is not to represent anything visually recognizable, but to paint until the work looks complete.

Olson's work hangs in residences and business sites throughout Michigan, and he has shown work at the Mid-Town gallery in downtown Kalamazoo and at numerous Kalamazoo businesses with the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo's Art Hop. One of his works also was selected for the Kalamazoo Institute of Art for the prestigious South West Michigan Artist Show in 2013.

Exhibit hours

The exhibit is on display from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8 to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday. For more information, contact Gay Walker at gay.walker@wmich.edu or (269) 387-3839.

For more news, arts and events, visit wmich.edu/news.