Rosemary Ollison (b. 1942) is a self-taught artist who lives in Milwaukee, WI. When she was 16 years old she moved to the midwest from a plantation in Arkansas. She began making art in 1994 while healing from an abusive marriage and for the next 29 years has explored numerous media. Most of her work deals thematically with her identity as a Black women and celebrates the power, individuality and mystique of 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 beads and 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 first 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 by Ted Brusubardis.
PSG has presented her work at the Outsider Art Fair, New York, each year since 2017. A solo exhibition of her work was presented by Shrine Gallery, NYC, in 2022. Her work has also been shown at the Lynden Sculpture Garden, the Saint Kate Art Hotel where she designed a room, Racine Art Museum, Haggerty Museum of Art (Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI), UWM Union Gallery, (Milwaukee), Indianapolis Public Library; and Walker’s Point Center for the Arts. Her work is included in the collections of the Museum of Wisconsin Art (West Bend, WI), Lynden Sculpture Garden, Northwestern Mutual Insurance, Chipstone Foundation, and the Milwaukee Art Museum. She was awarded a Mary L. Nohl Fellowship in 2018 and was named Milwaukee Artist of the Year. Rosemary Ollison's work is in the private collections of David Byrne, KAWS, and Joyce Pensato.