Portland, Arkansas 1943
Outsider artist Ollison was in her fifties before she began to draw and make art out of materials at hand. She made up for lost time, exhibiting her work late in life but widely, at the Outsider Art Fair in New York, for example, in 2017, 2018, and 2019. She also earned recognition and awards including the Mary L. Nohl Fellowship (2018) and City of Milwaukee Artist of the Year (2019). It was a long and hard journey from her childhood on an Arkansas plantation through an abusive marriage to finding her salvation and purpose in art in 1994.
Taking Leather to the Limit
As a self-taught artist, Rosemary Ollison is unhindered by inherited prejudices about what materials are suitable for art-making. Her works are often riotous assemblages of found objects. Taking Leather to the Limit incorporates scraps of leather and fabric sourced from local resale stores. The cascading strips of leather stream down like a waterfall suspended in motion. The colorful work captures the infectious joy that Ollison derives from pure acts of creativity.