Rosemary Ollison

Rosemary Ollison in her living room
large leather, install shot
Rosemary Ollison
Rosemary Ollison
leather textile
Rosemary Ollison, drawing, 2017
Rosemary Ollison, crazy quilt,
Rosemary Ollison
Rosemary Ollison
Rosemary Ollison
Rosemary Ollison
Rosemary Ollison
Rosemary Ollison
Rosemary Ollison
Rosemary Ollison
Rosemary Ollison
Rosemary Ollison
portrait with earrings
Rosemary Ollison
Rosemary Ollison
Rosemary Ollison
Tears and flowers
Rosemary Ollison
Rosemary Ollison

Rosemary Ollison is a self-taught artist who lives in Milwaukee, WI. She was 16 years old when she moved to the midwest from a plantation in Arkansas. She began making art in 1984 while healing from an abusive marriage and for the next 25 years explored numerous media. Most of her work deals thematically with her identity as a black women and celebrates the power, individuality and mystique of other women. Besides drawing, Rosemary collects glass, leather, bracelets, beads, bones and jewelry and repurposes these materials into sculptural works. She has redesigned her small apartment with layers of pattern, duct tape sculptures, curtains of woven leather, crazy quilts and inventive drawings. She also designs clothing and writes poetry. 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!”

Portrait Society presented her work in a major exhibition in 2016, which included a room-sized installation that was a recreation of her living room, with a four channel video.

She has exhibited work at the 2017 and 2018 Outsider Art Fair, New York; UWM Union Gallery, Milwaukee; Indianapolis Public Library; Walker’s Point Center for the Arts; Uihlein Peters Gallery; Cissy Peltz Gallery, Milwaukee; and Alphons Gallery. Her work is included in the collections of the Chipstone Foundation and the Milwaukee Art Museum. She is represented by Portrait Society Gallery.


2019   Lynden Sculpture Garden, "Prosperity in a Million                            Scraps, through December 9, 2019. Solo exhibition. 

2019   Haggerty Museum of Art, Marquette University, Nohl                  Fellowship exhibition.

2019    Saint Kate Arts Hotel. Commissioned room design. 

2018    Outsider Art Fair, New York, NY

2018    Waste Not II: Wisconsin Self Taught, Portrait Society                         Gallery, Milwaukee, WI

2017    Contemporary Art Society Art Auction, Milwaukee Art                      Museum, Milwaukee, WI

2017    Learning to Live with Abundance, Portrait Society                               Gallery (solo)

2017    Now Figuration, Portrait Society Gallery

2017    Outsider Art Fair, New York, NY

2016    Agency, Industry, Infinity, Portrait Society Gallery


Milwaukee Art Museum

Chipstone Foundation, Milwaukee, WI


2019    Mary L Nohl Fellowship award

2019    Milwaukee Artist of the Year


Review, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Mary Louise Schumacher

Review, A New Generation of Artists, Urban Milwaukee


Historic Third Ward

207 E. Buffalo St. Ste. 526

Milwaukee, WI 53202

© 2020 Portrait Society Gallery​





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Rosemary Ollison

Rosemary Ollison, bedroom studio with larger leather textile in progress.