By charging these famous facades with her independent commentary, Olivia attempts to challenge viewers’ assumptions about modern culture and conventional semiotics. In dialog with public spaces, her more sentimental neon statements straddle the line between sincerity and sarcasm, often leaving her viewer captivated by these juxtapositions.
The most exciting things in this world are temporary: hurricanes, explosions, lovers, lives, bigger explosions and other lives; all of these things, and more, and art – but particularly art. The reason street art has captured so many imaginations is its brevity of its display – blink and it will become replaced or removed or faded by the abrasive urban jungle. Steele’s outdoor public interventions have captured a lot of attention in recent years. Her cool linguistic and cultural deconstructions first invite you to look rather than think. Their endearing nature somehow halts your usual motion and sparks a light on the reaction evoked from within.
By placing neon statements of layered meaning in contradictory spaces, or by setting a fluorescent weave of words amongst the texture of a conciliatory image, Steele inspires a surprising internal dialogue with the individual. The ambiguity and irony of her lyrical statements add a refreshing complexity for the viewer through the placement and surroundings in which they are delivered. The work speaks in a simplistic vocabulary while carrying layers of philosophical, spiritual, and aesthetic inspired theory. Vowing to return neon to its roots, Steele intends for her work to be experienced from the city streets but can also be found somewhere unexpected, surrounded by nature.
Steele has aimed to venture away from the traditional confines of the art gallery and onto the streets to display her affection to the public, in public. An ongoing project of illuminated scripts and road sign interventions titled ‘PDA Public Display of Affection’ is connecting public spaces around Europe, USA, and South America, forming a trail of art to be sought out and followed by all.
From historic landmarks to listed building facades in London to barren beach roads in Mexico to the skylines of America, Olivia's quietly provocative statements have become beacons throughout the city – a yellow brick road of vibrant, illuminating sculpture. All locations, no matter how unlikely, no matter how grandiose or grimy, will briefly host beauty and thought; all people who meet it, no matter how divergent their concerns, no matter how disconnected their lives are, will be able to experience it. Consider it her public display of her affection, a sacred gift to the universe displayed in public. “Maybe seeing my truth will set a piece of you free.”