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Olivia Shepard: Multidisciplinary Artist and Digital Storyteller

I am Olivia Shepard, a multidisciplinary artist and recent graduate from the University of Virginia. In my work, I aim to initiate dialogues between the nostalgic and the contemporary, elevating artifacts of perceived low culture and femininity through playful and imaginative engagement. My artistic vision is inspired by the technological aesthetics spanning the 1980s to the 2010s, aiming to bridge the analog and digital, childhood and adulthood, and to rejuvenate modes of play and technology that many consider obsolete.

In my practice, I embrace the complexities of the digital era while critically examining the notion of "progress" in our rapid technological evolution. My deep emotional connection to past and present digital epochs is enriched by active participation in contemporary internet subcultures and "core" aesthetics proliferated through platforms like TikTok and Pinterest—ranging from cottagecore to weirdcore. These virtual spaces allow for the cultural production and empowerment of girls and women, transforming the digital landscape from the ground up. Through my art, I create portals to cyber-societies and womanist paradises where marginalized identities reclaim creative and cultural agency, using this unique digital interface to shape personal and collective narratives.

A central theme of my work is the exploration of feminine perspectives and imagined utopias, articulated through visions of 'Space cowgirl/cyborg princess paradises'—celebrations of femme cybercreativity and resilience. My projects oscillate between pleasure and pain, effervescence and nihilism, inviting viewers to delve into profound intellectual and philosophical inquiries sparked by the femme experience of bliss and grief.

Influenced by thinkers and creators like Hito Steyerl, Legacy Russell, Adrienne-Rose Gionta, and Megan thee Stallion, my work is grounded in a rich creative and theoretical framework, pushing the boundaries of traditional and digital art forms. This approach not only enhances the visual experience but also challenges audiences to reconsider art's role in society.

My creative process mirrors the imaginative realm of "playing house," blending elements of video and analog gaming to enrich my narrative scope. This method allows me to construct and animate my dreamed paracosms—detailed, imaginative worlds that often originate in childhood. I frequently play with scale, enlarging inanimate objects and juxtaposing them against tiny figures to create whimsical, politically charged worlds that challenge conventional narratives.

As I continue on this path of artistic exploration, I am committed to developing a body of work that is not only intellectually and emotionally stimulating but also transformative, inviting audiences to engage deeply with their perceptions and understandings of the world around them. Through my art, I aspire to inspire, challenge, and offer new perspectives on identity and creativity in the digital age.

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