Wanda Oliver is a Fannin County based photographer with a very strong interest in historic photographic processes, experimental photography, and the mixing of photography with other media. Her work is extraordinary as it comes from a mix of experimentation with self-expression to create something truly unique.
Oliver grew up on a farm a few miles north of Windom in the Springhill community. She left for the city when she was seventeen and never looked back. She came home for visits but never gave thought to permanently moving back until 2008 when she was forced to face the failing health of her parents. Out of necessity she left Austin to return home, but found brighter things awaited her.
“It has been one of the best things to happen to me. My marriage was already failing, and in the aftermath I reconnected with a high school classmate,. We married in April of 2012, making my full circle complete. I have two daughters, a stepdaughter, two grandchildren, two step-granddaughters, and a great-granddaughter. David and I share our home with two furry children, a dog and a cat.” adds Oliver
Oliver began pursuing Art as a potter and tile-maker, and never had any interest in taking pictures. In 2007 her daughter taught her to use a digital camera.
“I was instantly hooked. In fact, I don’t think I've fired a kiln since those first couple of lessons. The freedom of shooting digitally freed me from all the intimidating aspects of shooting on film. Strangely enough, I do now shoot some film, and though the traditional darkroom will never be my primary love, it’s no longer so intimidating.” says Oliver
Currently she is transitioning from taking individual shots to thinking in terms of projects and more serious bodies of work. With several projects ongoing she is not yet ready to put them out as she finds her biggest obstacle has been her own attitude about Art.
“It seemed the province of rarified individuals of immense talent, and a critical perspective that was entirely lost on me. In 2016, Ginger Sisco Cook, who has become a treasured friend, asked me to join a group in Paris, Texas that intended to work their way through the book, “The Artist’s Way”, together. Becoming part of that group was a turning point for me. I began to look at my work less as a hobby and more as a calling, and I began, for the first time, to think of the possibility of seeing myself as an artist at my core”, says Oliver, “I feel that I am in a period of convergence right now. I am taking a book making class, and I intend to take a print making class in the fall. I believe that these skills are critical to where I want to go in my “mature” work, work that lies, I believe, in an intersection of experimental photography, mixed media, and the more sculptural form of the book. I am also very interested in local history, papermaking, and native plants, particularly natural dyes. I hope to complete work that is rooted in this time and place, in my experience as a child of Fannin County, Texas, and that expresses my joy in being on this rock orbiting the sun. While I don’t expect to become the next Picasso, I would like to leave behind work that is valued by my local and/or regional community - or, at least, work that my family treasures.”
Wanda Oliver has also been teaching photography classes at the Honey Grove Library and Learning Center for just over ten years now with a spring and fall class available (please check with the library to verify class times).
Having sold one piece of work, she admits that it isn’t her focus but she does not object to selling more. Her current focus is on working on her own self-expression than on marketing.
“I do have a website though and I would love for more folks to visit it. In fact, I’d love for more folks to visit and comment. I have learned that feedback is the best gilt,” adds Oliver
You can find more of Wanda Oliver’s work at www.wandaoliver.com