Date: March 27, 2018 | Story: Tiffany Adams | Photography: Beth Hall |
Meet Olivia Trimble: As the maven behind Sleet City Signs and Murals, this Northwest Arkansas-based artist is leaving her mark on the Natural State
Where did you come up with your business name? Is this a reference to your hometown or a place you visited in the past? No, I’m actually a Northwest Arkansas native, and I currently live and breathe everything south Fayetteville. I’m rooted here with my two smart and fierce little girls and fantastic husband. The name “Sleet City Woman” comes from a line in a Pavement song that goes “sleet city woman, waiting to spar.” It was my original Instagram handle.
How did you get interested in large-scale painting? I’m a second-generation sign painter. I grew up watching my stepdad paint beautiful signs all over the region, but it didn’t occur to me that I might want to paint signs until after the birth of my second child in 2011. I started out with crafty, Pinterest-type signs and quickly moved on to commercial and artistic signs.
You’ve become known for your murals, perhaps most notably the quilt-themed works. Were murals your first works or did you start on smaller canvases? I painted my first quilt square years ago as a gift for my mother. It was a 2-by-2-foot piece—not big at all! I don’t have an impressive artistic background. I just decided to paint signs and quilts, and then did it.
We hear you have a new endeavor featuring these treasured heirlooms. Tell us more about The Quilt Square Project. The Quilt Square Project is an effort to bring quilt murals like the ones I have done at The Farmer’s Table Cafe, Shiloh Museum of Ozark History, and Uptown Fayetteville Apartments + Shops to all corners of the state. I want to feature the work of local women by painting the designs of their quilts on buildings in their towns. It’s a collaboration I’m working on with photographer Kat Wilson and Autumn Tolbert, who will document the process and collect the stories of the women who created the quilts originally. We are hoping to start in either central or northeast Arkansas.
Why do you feel the quilts are a good subject matter to take across Arkansas? We want to use public spaces to honor the women who marked family milestones with their handiwork. Often, quilting was also a community event with women providing support to one another to complete the work. These women used their skills as artists, laborers, and historians to create quilts that tell the stories of their family through fabric. Too often, the quilts have been locked away in closets or are too delicate to display publicly. We want to bring this art out into the communities where it originated.
Aside from the mural locations, do you have a set place where you work? Yes, my studio is off Center Street in Fayetteville. I cherish it; it’s my personal oasis away from all the things that stress me out. I paint and think and paint some more. I also have a steady stream of friends who visit and occasionally work on their own projects there.
What else is on the horizon for you in 2018? My projects often pop up out of the blue, so I like to just see what comes about. My goal is to paint a large mural or brick sign each month. Fingers crossed!
For more information about Sleet City Signs and Murals, give Olivia a call at (479) 387-7507 or follow her on Instagram (@sleetcitywoman).