Amaral’s sensitivity has been what has allowed her to experiment. She creates her own language through the implementation of new materials, new fibers and new concepts, without ever leaving aside what characterizes her so much: the middle ground that she herself found between art, architecture and craftsmanship.
She was born on June 10, 1932 in an Antioquian family with five sisters and two brothers. She studied architectural design at the Colegio Mayor de Cundinamarca, which allowed her to come into contact with two disciplines that have been her points of reference: design and architecture. In 1954, when the new artistic currents were taking hold in Colombia, she left to study textiles and design at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan, which gave her a professional base for a practice that she had already appreciated in the Colombian peasants and that later has been her main means of operation in the international artistic field. After her return to Colombia, Amaral applied Strengell’s philosophies to her own weavings, which were also nourished by the local context.
She is considered one of the great pioneers of post-war Latin American abstraction: her works do not leave aside a historical milestone. Her use of gold is a way of uniting pre-Hispanic culture, colonial art and her contemporary work, as well as the use of unconventional materials, which fuse weaving with her urgency to give answers. It is therefore safe to say that her works are essentially unclassifiable and self-reflexively authentic.
Her art has been contextualized within the discourses of the Latin American avant-garde, the feminine renaissance of craftsmanship, fiber art, modernist abstraction and the search for new postmodernist meanings.
In 1971, she won first prize at the XXII National Artists’ Salon, which meant an opening of the country’s events and institutions to the crossing of languages and modes, which was beginning to manifest itself with the multiplication of formal options. In 1973, she was awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship and in 1972 the first prize at the Third Coltejer Art Biennial in Medellin, which showed the reception that her work had begun to have in circuits other than the decorative arts or handicrafts themselves. Olga de Amaral later made numerous exhibitions in different countries and has been characterized since the sixties for having a constant work, with a notable presence in international galleries and museums.
She has had close to one hundred solo exhibitions and has participated in more than one hundred group exhibitions in renowned institutions around the world. Her work is part of 24 permanent collections, including the Banco de la República Art Collection, the collection of the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Kyoto Museum of Modern Art. Two of her works are exhibited at the Miguel Urrutia Art Museum of the Banco de la República.