Olen Hsu (b. 1975) is an American ceramic artist and sculptor working in high-fired porcelain and stoneware. As an arts educator, Olen specializes in mentoring adolescents and adults to uncover and grow their innate creativity. He has been teaching ceramics, sculpture, and drawing at universities and community arts centers since 1998. Dedicated to promoting authentic individual artistic expression, Olen is also an improvising collaborative musician (cellist, pianist) and regularly performs and records in experimental ensembles.
Olen holds degrees from Yale University (BA History of Art, 1997), the Kansas City Art Institute (BFA Ceramics and Photography/New Media, 2001), and The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (MFA Sculpture, 2003). At Yale, Olen studied Piano Performance with pianists Lydia Brown and Daniel del Pino. Later, largely inspired by the enthusiasm, playfulness, and joyful courageousness of his many beginning-adult students in clay, Olen picked up the cello at the age of 40 as a beginner with no other strings experience.
Olen has exhibited his work at The Bronx Museum of the Arts, New York; InterSpace New Media Arts Center in Sofia, Bulgaria; James Nicholson Gallery, New York; Ampersand International Arts, San Francisco; P.S. 122 Gallery, New York; Turbulence.org; The Philadelphia Art Alliance; The Clay Studio, Philadelphia; Matin Gallery, Los Angeles; Beaux Arts Bath Gallery, UK; Oxford Ceramics Gallery, UK; the National Building Museum of the Smithsonian, Washington, DC; and the Jianshui International Ceramics Museum, China, among others.
As a music improvisor, Olen's performances in 2022 and 2023 as a collaborative pianist and cellist in duo, trio, and quartet ensembles include: the Northampton Center for the Arts, MA; Martha's Vineyard Public Television Station, MA; The Plastic Club, Philadelphia, PA; Group Motion Dance, Philadelphia, PA; and the Kimmel Arts Center, Philadelphia, PA as part of the Avenue of the Arts LIVE! public arts initiative. Olen is a member of Music for People, Inc., a worldwide community dedicated to the belief that all people are inherently musical, creative, and capable of authentic, spontaneous expression. Music for People enables holistic music making for people of all ages and levels of experience. In 2001-23, Olen worked as a Programming Coordinator for Music for People and served on its Strategic Planning / DEIB Committee.
Olen is the recipient of awards including: New York State Council on the Arts Individual Artist Grant; National Endowment for the Humanities Younger Scholars Grant; Dedalus Foundation Master of Fine Arts Fellowship; AIM 25 (curated artist professional development program) at The Bronx Museum of the Arts (NY); Harvestworks Digital Media Arts Center Artist-in-Residence Program and New Music Commission (NYC); Joan Mitchell Foundation grant via the Vermont Studio Center; John Michael Kohler Arts Center Arts/Industry Residency Program (WI); and a Turbulence New Media Commission from New Radio and Performing Arts, Inc. (NYC).
Olen's work is in private collections internationally and in the permanent collection of the Jianshui International Ceramics Museum, Jianshui, China. Olen currently is represented by Beaux Arts Gallery in Bath, United Kingdom.