Jeanne Nikolai Olivieri

Artist Statement


The buzzing sound of cicadas that echoed in my ears as a child was the beginning of a certain fascination. I believed the sound was generated by the power lines that divided the sky above me, sure that they were passing along some urgent message. Assigning life to inanimate wires became part of my everyday play. That fascination persists as I continue to study and paint the tangled webs of wires that decorate the sky, forming patterns and shapes. The monoliths supporting the wires develop personalities: they are powerful, strong connectors, or weakened elderly leaners. bridge cables and supports of any kind attract my eye. I enjoy painting telephone poles with abstract designs, perhaps in nostalgia for my early years in Chippewa Falls where my imagination was so free.

I continue to study and paint structures, cityscapes and cables. My work does not neglect nature, as I often paint landscapes and florals with equal delight, celebrating my connection to our earth. I feel a need to balance between nature and progress!


I work in multiple mediums, including acrylics, watercolors, collage, ink and gouache, responding to a continuous need to explore. Whatever the medium, I use vivid pigments, and paint with discipline, abandon, spontaneity and precision, depending on my feelings and surroundings. 


Jeanne Nikolai Olivieri, a Milwaukee artist, works in watercolor, acrylics and mixed media. A third generation artist, her exposure to the art world began as a youngster. She sold her first work at age 14, and has been active in art since that time.


Nikolai Olivieri studied Art and Spanish at Carroll University and has a Masters in Teaching (MAT) from Cardinal Stritch University. Her deep interest in other languages and cultures has lead to frequent travel and study abroad. This exposure has influenced her work, which frequently reflects cultural connections and contrasts. Infrastructure, architecture, clothing, people and nature are all rich subject matter for her art.

Nikolai Olivieri is currently focusing on the buildings, cables, wires, power lines and infrastructures that connect and support us. Division of space, unusual perspectives, and brilliant colors give the often-overlooked subject matter warmth, power, and life. 

According to the artist, watercolor “is fascinating because of its many facets and often-unpredictable nature which require moment-to-moment creativity. Whatever the medium, I use vivid pigments, and paint with discipline, abandon, spontaneity and precision, depending on my feelings and surroundings. There is nothing timid about my palette, and I enjoy taking risks.” 

Jeanne exhibits at a variety of galleries and locations throughout Wisconsin and beyond. Her work can be seen in both private and corporate collections. She serves on the board of the Milwaukee Artist Resource Network and volunteers at a variety of other organizations.

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