Rosemary Ollison: Learning to Live with Abundance

Special 2-Week exhibition: June 12-29, 2017

Opening reception: Friday, June 16, 6-8pm.

Rosemary Ollison in studio

Portrait Society Gallery is pleased to present “Learning to Live with Abundance,”  a special  two-week exhibition of Milwaukee artist Rosemary Ollison’s new work. The public reception is  Friday, June 16 from 6 to 8pm. 

This exhibition features a re-construction of an installation staged in 2016 at PSG of Rosemary’s living room, with a four-channel video by Ted Brusubardis. New large-scale leather quilts constructed over the past year and recent drawings will also be presented.

Rosemary Ollison, 75, grew up on a plantation in Arkansas where her grandfather was the horse wrangler. She moved to Wisconsin at age 16, after her grandfather died and the family was asked to leave the plantation. She began making art in 1984 while healing from an abusive marriage and working at a pre-school for disabled children. Her drawings, often done in series, are about being a black woman in America. They are, essentially, celebrations of blackness and womanhood, mirroring self-acceptance and confidence in the way individuals style themselves and assert their personalities through dress and posture. Rosemary has  transformed her small apartment into an art environment, using handmade rugs, fiber works, drawings, duct tape sculptures, beaded works, jewelry, hog bone necklaces and clothing to create a vibrant, joyous space of self-defined beauty. 

Rosemary employs materials sourced mostly from resale stores. Working full time at her art practice, she applies a sophisticated, practiced sense of design to all she touches.  This year she has been focused on a series of large quilts made out of deconstructed leather coats and garments from resale stores. These quilts will be shown for the first time during this exhibition, which will also feature a post-election series of drawings called “Darkness in the Depths of Beauty,” a series of black and white drawings, and an installation that is a reconstruction of her living room with a four-channel video by Ted Brusubardis. 

Ollison says she creates in dialog with God:  “When I am creating I am satisfied, I am free! I no longer just exist, I am alive! I do not feel worthless, hopeless, alone, sad, afraid, ashamed, guilty, down hearted, unloved, uncared for, doubtful, and discontented and the like. . .I can see the real me in my works.” 

Portrait Society featured Ollison’s work in the 2017 Outsider Art Fair in New York City. Her work is in several prominent public collections, including the Milwaukee Art Museum and the Chipstone Foundation, as well many private collections.