Our souls age like a fine wine as our physical elements diminish as Father Time taps us on the shoulder. Artist and Iceland native Vala Ola has made it her mission to capture the inner light that resides in all human beings — a venture that has been achieved time and again.
 
Throughout her life and artistic career, Vala Ola has travelled the world from her native Iceland, to Europe and – since 1994 – the United States. At each stop, she’s come across countless individuals, each of them endowed with a soul that made them beautiful in their own special way. This, she asserts, has always been a driving force for her art. “My source of inspiration is always the figure and the soul that lives within,” she says. “The figure itself has its own beauty that can be a feast for the eye. Looking at people makes me want to create art. The challenge is to keep the soul of my subject alive through the process. The knowledge of anatomy and the technique of the Old Masters are tools which I use to breath life into the figure when sculpting or painting.”
 


Vala Ola, “Clear Vision,” bronze, (c) Vala Ola 2016

 
Primarily a sculptor today, Ola has also employed illustration, painting, and drawing — among other approaches — for the same artistic endeavors. Despite her eclectic range, her art has remained profoundly successful. And it should come as no surprise that the artist was greatly moved by the soulful master himself, Rembrandt van Rijn. Ola writes, “The body houses the soul. Rembrandt proved to me while I stood in front of him in the Metropolitan Museum that it is possible to capture the human soul and keep it alive through a work of art. I felt closer to him than to the people standing next to me. This is my chase: that the artwork keep the soul alive. Our bodies vanish but our soul lives on and can manifest through the artwork. The beauty of being an artist is that I feel a responsibility to see the deeper essence and in order to do that I not only want to exercise my technical skills, but also find myself wanting to grow within.” To be sure, it seems that Ola gains as much from her process as viewers and collectors do from her art.
 


Vala Ola, “River Song,” bronze, 14 x 7 x 4 in. (c) Vala Ola 2016


Vala Ola, “Ulele,” bronze, 8 ft. (c) Vala Ola 2016

 
Ola’s sculptures indeed display an uncanny sense of the soul, that energy that emanates from us all and requires a discerning artist to capture. Whether it be the casual play of children, the sensual touch of partners, or the commemoration of America’s native peoples, each work radiates life, purpose, and gravity. Ola adds, “There is a level of seeing where you can push through to see subtle shapes and colors you couldn’t before. There is also a spiritual understanding where the artist can bring life and soul even to a brick. This light has to also live within the artist in order to bring it forth.”
 


Vala Ola, “Sensuality,” bronze on wood base, 33 x 10 x 10 in. (c) Vala Ola 2016

 
Ola’s light must be bright, because many have noticed — and will continue to notice —her art, which has landed the artist several commissions for public monuments. “My primary goal in both life and art is to expand my heart” she adds, “and through my art to find a heart that beats like mine. Art feeds my soul.”
 


Vala Ola, “Lost Tribes Monument,” bronze, 8 x 6 1/2 ft. (c) Vala Ola 2016

 
I think many readers would agree that art feeds our souls as well, and as long as artists like Vala Ola are continuing to capture it, connoisseurs, collectors, and enthusiasts alike will have much to look forward to in the future.
 
To learn more, visit valaola.com
 
This article was featured in Fine Art Today, a weekly e-newsletter from Fine Art Connoisseur magazine. To start receiving Fine Art Today for free, click here.
 

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Andrew Webster
Andrew Webster is the former Editor of Fine Art Today and worked as an editorial and creative marketing assistant for Streamline Publishing. Andrew graduated from The University of North Carolina at Asheville with a B.A. in Art History and Ceramics. He then moved on to the University of Oregon, where he completed an M.A. in Art History. Studying under scholar Kathleen Nicholson, he completed a thesis project that investigated the peculiar practice of embedded self-portraiture within Christian imagery during the 15th and early 16th centuries in Italy.

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