Olivia Jia’s unconventional still lifes function as a way of organising disparate images, objects and ideas and their attendant personal and public histories. Contrary to the experience of hyperphantasia — the ability to conjure and recall images with extreme clarity and vividness, to “see,” with the mind’s eye — Jia describes her process of remembering through language. Thus, similarly to some mnemonic devices, Jia’s paintings construct architectures in which she houses the significant images in her mind, in an effort to carve them into reality, and ultimately to remember them.


In the space of Jia’s paintings, disparate images exist together, are pinned down and made tangible. Focusing on an image’s visual specificity and the metaphorical, narrative, and subtextual relationships that may be generated when two images are placed beside each other, the artist paints, sands, swaps, and repaints images in relation to one another until they hold an affect, a frisson, an allusion to something that cannot be named. 


In building a pictorial architecture to hold these images, Jia looks toward existing systems that we use to organise knowledge: institutions, books and papers, museums and archives and so forth. From these systems she borrows objects such as plinths, display cases, shelves, or the binding of a book, all of which become signifiers of a curatorial or editorial context, whilst the muted and often surreal colours of their depictions reiterate the unreality of the scene. Describing the subject of these paintings, Jia said, “this would be the space behind your eyelids. Or, psychological portraits. Or, what happens if the mind’s eye peers into a mirror.”




b. 1994, Chicago IL

Lives and works in Philadelphia, PA



2017 University of the Arts, Philadelphia, PA / BFA Fine Arts / Minors in Art History and Philosophy & Religion

2015 Yale Norfolk Summer School of Art, Norfolk, CT


Solo Exhibitions


Ex Libris, Workplace, London, UK


Afterwards, President’s Office Gallery, University of the Arts, Philadelphia, PA


Group Exhibitions


Interludes, Workplace, London, UK

Tiger Beats, Tiger Strikes Asteroid, Philadelphia, PA

Room for One, Napoleon Project Space, Philadelphia, PA

Second Nature: The Poetics of Re-Presentation, Woodmere Museum 78th Juried Exhibition, Philadelphia,



Untitled, Dongsomun Project Space, Seoul, South KoreaInto the Light, Bridgette Mayer Gallery & Friends of the Rail Park, Philadelphia, PA


Get it while it’s cheap pt. 5, Marginal Utility, Philadelphia, PA 

Everything I disbelieve and all the things I can’t deny, University of the Arts, Philadelphia (thesis)

Powdered Mass, New Boon(e), Philadelphia, PA

Press Start, New Boon(e), Philadelphia, PA

Philadelphia 2076, Space 1026, Philadelphia, PA

Norfolk Student Show, Norfolk, CT


Press & Publications

2022 Simon Fisher, Eva Fuchs and Rory Mitchell, Ocula: London Art Exhibitions to See, May 23 2022,





University of the Arts / Panelist: Professional Practices, February 13

Tyler School of Art / Visiting Artist Lecture: Business Practices, March 22 / Sophomore Painting, April 10


Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts / Lecture: The Painter’s Forum Lecture Series, March 26


Awards & Honors

President’s Award for highest GPA in the College of Art, Media, and Design, University of the Arts

Ellen Battell Stoeckel Fellowship, Yale University

Avery Scholarship, University of the Arts

Trustee Scholarship, University of the Arts

Bunker Scholarship, University of the Arts,

American Visions Medal, Scholastic Art & Writing Awards