Senior Star: Olivia Gubel

Keira Jameson

Olivia Gubel ’21 dipped her brush into the oil paints and sat down at her easel to paint a picture of her backyard on a summer day. As the vibrant paint glided across the canvas, she felt inspired by the environment around her.

Gubel realized her passion for art at a young age; through time and exploration, she was able to unlock a side of herself that was previously obscured and discovered that painting was her calling.

“I started doing art classes around the age of seven or eight,” Gubel said. “I felt like I’ve gone through a lot of activities since then, but visual art has been one of the ones that have really stuck.”

Though she started painting at a young age, it was not until she attended the Upper School that her art career began to take off. She said she has been able to grow as an artist through the visual arts program and that she is now able to see painting as a means to express herself rather than just a recreational activity.

“I feel so grateful for the art department at Harvard-Westlake because I feel like they treat art not simply as a hobby or outlet, but as a true mode of expression as well as an intellectual endeavor,” Gubel said. “I’ve certainly grown technically, [but] most of the progress I’ve made has concerned making my art purposeful, making it less static and using my work to probe some sort of interest or emotion within the viewer.”

Olivia’s true inspiration lies in exploration and being able to try new things in the classroom. The ability to play around with different media and art forms has not only been a challenge for her but has also proven to be beneficial, since she has found her favorite form of expression.

“I started painting rooms and interiors because I simply loved the challenge of painting architecture, symmetry, patterns and textures,” Gubel said. “For me, my inspiration came from something very simple, but over time, it has evolved into something greater as I question the connections between and the implications of the spaces I paint.”

Overall, Gubel’s experience with the school’s art program has helped her improve her technique, while giving her an outlet to express her emotions. She said she also sees the art room as a safe environment for learning and collaboration that has positively impacted her creative output.

“The art room has been a place I consistently visited throughout my time at Harvard-Westlake,” Gubel said. “It’s a sort of sanctuary: somewhere away from everything else. It can be a great place to socialize and build bonds with other artists, but also a place where you can just be alone and work quietly and contemplatively.”