Artists & Writers in their Own Words: Monica Olivia

"Valley flowers" 50 cm by Monica Olivia

Introducing my poetic, spiritual, wise and beautiful friend from Norwegian Lapland Monica Olivia. She is a self-taught Sámi artist who makes art of mind-blowing beauty using a palette of vivid hues found in the most northerly regions of the earth. Monica also has a spiritually nourishing and beautiful blog ‘Ask the Mountains‘ where she writes about Sámi culture, motherhood, spirituality, art and nature. In this interview, Monica talks about the beauty of being Sámi and living at the intersection of two cultures, her connection to nature, Buddhism and why living in Norwegian Lapland is a place of endless inspiration for her.

What I love about being Sámi is that I automatically feel at home and connected to the land and nature. We are not separate

As Sámis, our ancestry goes back to Siberia and the Ural mountains. Even though I have never been there myself, I feel a connection to it and even the other indigenous tribes there. That, to me, is a very strong love – to the land and to community.

“The same stillness that exists in nature, exists in me. I hope to transmit this feeling of belonging to my son as well.”

~ Monica Olivia

Most of my paintings are Arctic landscapes and mountains. I hope to capture and transmit the ever-changing mood where I live in Norwegian Lapland

"Arctic midnight" 40 x 50 cm by Monica Olivia
“Arctic midnight” 40 x 50 cm by Monica Olivia

I love colours and creating something out of thin air. Painting is amazing like that

There are no rules, you can use whatever techniques you want and over time eventually you will naturally create your own unique style. 

I haven’t actually painted that long, only on and off for about 6 years with no formal art education. Without a doubt I want to make it many, many more years and I hope one day I can go to art school. In the meanwhile, I will continue to paint whenever I feel inspired to do so.

“January”, 45 x 55 cm by Monica Olivia

I realised at some point that art is something that goes beyond duality and spoken language

I wanted to be part of that. To express myself, perhaps specifically because I don’t feel I am that good with words and talking due to stammering.

If I was to speak to my younger self, I would tell her: ‘trust your inner voice, and stay weird’

Sounds cheesy, but that’s truly what she needs to hear.

I enjoy being able to use the surroundings, landscape, colours and light to create something new but familiar

It’s also really fun sharing what I make and getting feedback that people can feel my art pieces inside of themselves. That my art speaks to them without a single word. Another thing I love is using other artists’ work as inspiration.

"Valley flowers" 50 cm by Monica Olivia
“Valley flowers” 50 cm by Monica Olivia

It is only in my 20’s that I have truly embraced my ethnicity as Sámi. I think this is the case for many young Sámis

I have always looked “not Norwegian/Scandinavian”. I have been asked so many times where I am “really from”. Sámis are very scattered today and most (!) Sámis don’t speak or write any of the nine remaining Sámi languages. The culture is lost many places and Sámis have adopted new nationalities and culture (Norwegian, Swedish, Russian, Finnish etc.)

"Moonlit landscape" 32 x 24 cm
“Moonlit landscape” 32 x 24 cm by Monica Olivia

Luckily, any one person can be two or more things at the same time

So I definitely see myself as Sámi AND Norwegian. Sápmi and Norway overlap each other. 

Being Sámi has very much connected and rooted me in nature. This has made painting landscapes and animals more effortless, I believe.

~ Monica Olivia

Without a doubt Nicholas Roerich really inspires me

He was a master of painting landscapes and mountains, mainly from his travels to Asia. His work has a lot of spiritual symbolism as well. He had incredible skills when it came to colour combinations and composition. Read more about him on this blog post of mine from 2018.

Since then, I have discovered another painter who really sparked inspiration in me, Norwegian painter Vebjørn Sand

His level of dedication and perfection is truly inspiring, it’s easy to see in his works. I saw some of his original paintings at a gallery in Oslo two years back.

The Buddhist path isn’t just about feeling good and calm all the time

The Buddhist path is about unraveling and revealing our true selves, our Buddha nature, to understand ourselves and how the mind works.

I think it’s great when spiritual teachers talk openly about these matters. Many meditators get into spiritual practice because they want answers to their discontentment with life, to get happy. And often with practice we will hit spots in our minds that makes waves into daily life, for example if you have anxiety, it can momentarily get amplified when it is uncovered with practice. So it’s good to know that the goal is not to bypass all our problems, but to face them and to “cut through” them so that our natural state gets revealed. Over and over until all karmas are erased

Monica olivia, ask the Mountains

“I find it amazing how there are a little over 300 words for snow conditions in the Northern Sámi language

“It just shows how much the natural surroundings matter; the language is built around the ever-changing conditions, especially in relation to herding.

~ Monica Olivia

The same stillness that exists in nature, exists in you

"Dvale" (Hibernation) 32 x 24 cm by Monica Olivia
“Dvale” (Hibernation) 32 x 24 cm by Monica Olivia

A meditation…

Allow yourself to be yourself. Close your eyes and feel the stable mountain-like presence of your own being. Indestructable, isn’t it? Your own light, your own intuition. Keep returning to yourself. To home, to where you are safe and where you belong. The same stillness that exists in nature, exists in you. There is no seperation, and it cannot be taken away or destroyed. Allow yourself to come home, over and over, until there is no doubt. xx Monica

Monica olivia, ask the mountains

Here is more information about the Dharma path that I practice, it’s called Pemako Buddhism.

Right now I am making a short movie called “Arktos”

It is about 6 minutes long. It is part of an online festival called Klimakunstfestivalen (The Climate Art Festival). All of us involved with it have little to no experience with movie making, so it will be fun to see the result 😄 I will post it on my blog, otherwise you can follow Klimakunstfestivalen on Facebook.

A still from my new short film Arktos

You can get in touch with me and buy my art via Facebook and you can also follow me on WordPress at Ask the Mountains, thank you and I look forward to connecting with you

Published by Content Catnip

Content Catnip is a quirky internet wunderkammer written by an Intergalactic Space Māori named Content Catnip. Join me as I meander through the quirky and curious aspects of history, indigenous spirituality, the natural world, animals, art, storytelling, books, philosophy, travel, Māori culture and loads more.

3 thoughts on “Artists & Writers in their Own Words: Monica Olivia

  1. Yes she’s so very talented, just looking at her work takes me to a calm serene place and I can sense her spirituality infused into her paintings as well. I’m so glad you like it and you may also enjoy her WordPress blog too, thanks for your comment 😊

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: