My work addresses socially conscious concerns around eternal human issues of group power dynamics, social identity and how they express themselves through economic and social inequality. Status and hierarchy between social groups is a major theme of life in the United States. I aim to illuminate the vast social system surrounding each of us and clarify how it benefits certain groups over others. I research the history of American housing inequality based on racist segregation, exclusion, and exploitation.
The American home and the “American dream” are conjoined ideas that have a rich and historical presence in culture, but also affect our nation’s citizens in the most personal ways. We Americans do not seek one idealized roof over our heads, but we all want some form of security and equal opportunity for growth, education and lasting family bonds. Our current social landscape is blatantly unequal in such vicious and widespread ways that most of us are overwhelmed by any attempt to make sense of it. The causes and consequences of inequality can be described with sociological studies and graphs using historical analysis, but as an artist, I seek pull from these forms to evoke history, rather than simply explain it.
In order to maintain truthfulness in representation I almost always begin with a real place and explore its history, building a mix of characters, settings, and signs until the image feels as real as the history of that place. I focus on creating anachronistic tableaus, where within the frame one can observe three or four different periods and understand possible trajectories of cause-and-effect over decades. The street may be in the 1950s, but everything above the first story could be in 2018. Viewers can see inside and outside of buildings, being welcomed to identify with the interior lives of strangers.
My practice includes various approaches to drawing, painting and photography that combine realistic rendering, diagramming, abstraction and cartooning. By using realistic techniques and architectural language (cutaways, cross-sections, plan views, isometric and linear perspective) I engage with people’s imaginations because they can be pulled into the space and structure of the image. They can visualize themselves walking through these streets, hallways, and rooms. By using diagrammatic notation and non-objective marks and color, I can shift the conceptual and emotional tone of the work. Diagrammatic communication speaks to the idea that society is planned, structures are designed by ideology as much as for aesthetics and function. With the goal of clarifying our history of inequality in order to find new solutions, the metaphor of “architecture” speaks about the larger system that we often struggle to understand, and only through the use of imaginative intelligence can the viewer navigate such a maze.
I am a Philadelphia-based artist who holds an MFA from the University of Pennsylvania School of Design, Philadelphia and a BFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore. I am a member of the NAPOLEON collective. I have exhibited at The Galleries at Moore, Goggleworks Art Center, Pentimenti Gallery, NAPOLEON, Marginal Utility, and Bridgette Mayer Gallery. Exhibitions that I have co-curated include Immigration Now at Penn State Abington and Exquisite Form: A Fiber Invitational, at Allens Lane Art Center in Philadelphia. I am an adjunct Professor at Penn State University, Abington and Drexel University, Philadelphia, and was an undergraduate instructor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Design.
2013 Master of Fine Arts, University of Pennsylvania School of Design, Philadelphia, PA
2001 Bachelor of Fine Arts, Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, MD
2009 Cascades West (Depoe Bay), private collection
His, Hers, Theirs, private collection
2016-ongoing Member, NAPOLEON art collective, Philadelphia, PA 2010-2017 Exhibitions Committee member, Allens Lane Art Center, Philadelphia, PA
2012-13 Member, College Art Association
2006-10 President, The Northwest Artists Collective, Philadelphia, PA
2003-07 Regional Community Arts Program, Center for Emerging Visual Artists, Philadelphia, PA
Chip Schwartz, “Mount Airy Contemporary paints Marginal Utility for Citywide”, Knight Arts Challenge Newsletter, November 14, 2013
Alison McMenamin, “Shock Waves at Sundown –Daniel Oliva’s Window Installation at Pentimenti”, The Artblog, August 19, 2011
Susan Lewis, “Interview with Daniel Oliva”, WRTI Radio, September 11, 2010
Lori Hill, “First Friday Focus”, Citypaper, April 5-April 12, 2007
2018 Visiting artist, Germantown Academy, Fort Washington, PA
2010 Visiting artist/critic, Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, MD
2003 Guest lecturer, Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, MD
2017 - present Adjunct Lecturer, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA - Introduction to Drawing
2016 - present Instructor for Design Foundation, Summer Art and Design Initiative, Moore College of Art & Design, Philadelphia, PA
2014 - present Adjunct Lecturer, Penn State University Abington Campus, Abington, PA - Contemporary Art Seminar, Painting, Figure Drawing, Visual Thinking, Ancient Through Gothic Art History, Introduction to the Visual Arts (ART 1). I developed the first online version of ART 1 as well as regularly teaching the classroom lecture and newly modified studio versions
2014 - 2015 Adjunct Instructor, Delaware County Community College, Media, PA - Drawing I, Watercolor Painting, Photography, 2D Design
2013 - 2016 Drawing Instructor, Mount Airy Learning Tree, Philadelphia, PA
2013 Recipient of PennDesign Teaching Fellowship, University of Pennsylvania, School of Design, Philadelphia, PA - Drawing 1
2012 Drawing I Teacher’s Assistant, University of Pennsylvania, School of Design, Philadelphia, PA
Figure Drawing 1 and 2 Teacher’s Assistant, University of Pennsylvania, School of Design, Philadelphia, PA
2011 Drawing I Teacher’s Assistant, University of Pennsylvania, School of Design, Philadelphia, PA
2018 Portfolio Reviewer, Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, MD
2016 Contributing essayist, Kay Healy: What is Real, NAPOLEON Gallery, Philadelphia, PA
2010 Creator and MC, The Art Slam, Competition Between Artists… In Front of a Live Audience
2009 Guest Juror, Conshohocken Arts League, Annual Exhibition