Knowing Joy Through Pain: Olga Lah’s Circuitous Path to Site-Specific Art

Episode 10

3/26/20243 min read

In Episode 10 of The Installation Art Podcast, we delve into the world of site-specific installation with award-winning artist Olga Lah. Prepare to be inspired as we uncover the intriguing life and work of this Korean-American artist based in Los Angeles, celebrated for her immersive, site-specific installations that redefine space and perception.

• Learn how Olga's path diverged from conventional norms, as she unveils her surprising trajectory from giving up her spot at Harvard, to attending Seminary and then deciding to become an artist.
• Take a peek at Lah’s early inspirations, secret hobbies and her childhood dream job.
• Reflect on the personal tragedies that profoundly shaped Olga's artistic identity, particularly the sudden loss of her mother, igniting a transformative journey towards self-expression and healing through art.
• Gain insight into Lah’s unique artistic process, where commonplace materials are transformed into immersive installations, and explore the challenges and triumphs of crafting site-specific artworks.
• Delve into the financial aspects of art-making, Lah’s experience with residencies, and her dream of creating a large-scale installation in a major museum.

The discussion also touches on the realities of being an independent artist and the importance of perseverance and adaptability in the art world.

00:00 Welcoming the Guest and Light-hearted Questions
02:31 Discovering the Artist's Childhood and Inspirations
05:10 The Impact of Personal Tragedy on Artistic Path
08:30 Transitioning to Art from Seminary Studies
12:04 Exploring Installation Art and Material Choices
20:45 Navigating the Challenges of Installation Art
30:20 Funding and Managing Large-Scale Art Projects
35:18 Reflecting on Residencies and the Journey Ahead
36:01 Exploring Art Residencies and Collaborative Projects
37:21 Navigating the Costs and Benefits of Art Residencies
38:18 The Challenge of Balancing Art and Daily Responsibilities
39:06 Highlighting a Major Installation Opportunity
42:51 Engaging Audiences with Tactile Art Experiences
43:58 The Dynamics of Installation Day
46:00 Adapting to Unplanned Installation Challenges
49:27 Balancing Motherhood and Artistic Pursuits
51:48 Project-Based Work and Future Aspirations
59:54 Dream Projects and the Value of Community Feedback
01:01:27 Advice for Emerging Installation Artists

Olga Lah is based in LA. You can check out her work on her website and on her Instagram @olgalah_studio

If you are in St Paul, Minnesota, you can see Olga’s work in person at Olson Gallery in Bethel University, until April 21st, 2024.

Also mentioned in this episode:
Singles Inferno:
Queer Eye: |
The Crown:
Emily Dickinson:
Connie Chung:
Harvard: |
Los Angeles County Museum of Art: |
Do Ho Suh:
Choi Jeong Hwa: |
Richard Serra:
Tara Donovan: |
Byron Kim: |
Jean Shin: |
John Wayne Airport: |
Olson Gallery:
Bethel University: |

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More information about the show and previous episodes:
Your host Anastasia Parmson: |

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