Olga Lah is a mixed-media, large-scale, site-specific installation artist who transforms ordinary materials – sponges, bottle caps, paper, bed sheets, can lids, paperback books, pen clips, sheets of plastic, ribbons, etc. – and large spaces into immersive environments. There is a certain tension between her repetitive use of these found objects and the vast scale in which they are deployed. This juxtaposition gives her work its energy and spontaneity.
In 2002, Lah received her B.A. in studio art and art history from the University of California, Riverside. She was accepted into a master’s program at Harvard University but had to decline admission to care for her elderly father. She did work in various art education jobs and enrolled in a Biblical Studies program at Fuller Theology Seminary where she received her M.A. in 2006.
Studying art in Italy, Lah saw the ways in which art had decorated spaces of worship throughout the whole of Christian history. The works of the Late Middle Age Florentine artist Giotto and the Renaissance Tuscan artist Luca Signorelli inspired her to start drawing and to make art works that brought spaces to life. In 2013, Lah did a residency program in Florence where she exhibited in the oldest church in the Chianti region, La Macina di San Cresci, connecting her own contemporary art with a traditional Catholic Church environment.
Lah wraps buildings in electric tape, fills huge spaces with crumpled paper, lines galleries with swaths of plastic bottle caps, and packs gallery walls with thousands of sponges. In 2012, for a large theater space in Pasadena, she made “Ascension.” This installation was made from dozens of wooden fan trellises rising up in mid-air and almost touching the ceiling from its singular base attached to the floor. It looked like the garden trellises had taken off on their own, reaching upwards with a sense of motion, as if the work was ascending into Heaven.
In 2013, Lah created an installation for the entranceway of the Palm Springs Art Fair. In 2020, she participated in Los Angeles International Airport’s LAX Art at Home exhibition with her “Lucent Shifts.” This art installation, on display in Terminal 7, was made from sheets of reflective plastic attached together. Lah hoped that her work’s ambiguous free form, glistening presence, and shifting light would inspire a sense of wonder for people passing through the airport.
Lah has participated in dozens of group shows, including those juried by curators from the Los Angeles County Museum, Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Hammer Museum. She has participated in group shows in Italy’s Venice Arsenale; New York’s Gagosian Gallery; and Los Angeles Pacific Design Center among others.
Her solo shows have been exhibited at Los Angeles Craft and Folk Art Museum; Torrance Art Museum; Orange County Museum of Art; Los Angeles International Airport (LAX); Palm Springs Fine Art Fair; Concordia University Irvine, California; Los Angeles’ Korean Cultural Center Gallery; Los Angeles Convention Center and others.