Olivia Beens (b. 1948) is a New York-based Dutch-American artist whose work is helixed around the sacred and profane. Buoyed by questions of identity, spirituality, and feminism, her lyrical sculptures, potent wall reliefs, and dynamic performances interrogate the liminal self while encapsulating ideas of physical and psychic transformation. From her ephemeral installations and performances of the 1980s to the assemblages and clay works that have defined her practice for the last three decades, Beens has consistently explored the intersections of body and memory as they relate to global art histories, mysticism, gender, urbanism, and ecology.
Born to Czech and Dutch parents in Haarlem, Netherlands, Beens lived briefly in Portugal before immigrating to Flushing, Queens at the age of seven. After receiving her BFA and MFA from Pratt and Hunter College, respectively, Beens moved to the Lower East Side where she spent much of the 1980s and 1990s. It was in this flurry of the Downtown arts scene that Beens participated in numerous alternative art galleries and artist groups, including Franklin Furnace, ABC No Rio, Collaborative Projects, Inc. (Colab), and Political Art Documentation/Distribution (PAD/D).
Beens has presented work in numerous spaces in New York, including performances and exhibitions at The Kitchen, Performance Space 122, Artists Space, A.I.R. Gallery, and Abrons Arts Center, among others. Beens’ contributions to the artist collective Colab have also been exhibited and collected by The Museum of Modern Art and the New Museum.