Born and bred Queens, NYer turned Chicago implant by way of destiny, my name is Olivia but you can call me Ollie. I am a mother, daughter, sister, partner, womxn, social working community organizer in touch with my artistic layer, etc. - in that order.
When I was little I wanted to be an astronaut, but have really bad motion sickness so I deserted that dream and decided to just be. While thankful for the privileged space to do that, I’m now 32 and still trying to figure it all out.
In the words of my mother, ‘I come from a long line of womxn’ - that’s strong willed womxn who were/are in touch with their creative selves. I used to tell people that in my family you are either an artist or a social justice worker. I’m trying to live on the bridge of these two worlds.
My mama, Dolores Huerta, my grandmothers Micha & Vera, Tim Burton, Buffy the Vampire Slayer (the character), my godmother Ada, Ansel Adams, my partner Anthony, Dottie Henson, Angela Davis, my cousin Amía, Willie Tolliver, Mimi Abramovitz, the art direction team from Pee Wee’s Playhouse, my sister Hope and my brother Ian, the cities of New York & Chicago, and most recently I learned about and fell in love with the work of Hannah Höck - thanks to my mama.
CHILDHOOD FROM THEN TO NOW:
I grew up being told that you have to work with what you have and that art is everywhere. It sounds pretentious I know but I literally do not know how else to exist other than creating these tangible pieces of art work. Sometimes there is a clear use and purpose but most of the time there isn’t.
Whereas my organizing work has the intention and purpose written all over it, at least I aim for it to. In the words of Terri Mizrahi ‘the process is as important as the product’.
My mom is an artist and an educator so I grew up going to all her workshops for kids, after school programs, meetings, etc. One summer she turned our house into a kids art camp. When I say I was raised being told to work with what you have, I’m deadass. Most of my art work utilizes materials I gather either from my own recycling can or found outside. I never went to art school so I just kind of make shit up as I go along.
I did however go to school for social work. In my organizing work I bring in this concept of working with what you have through never trying to reinvent the wheel but rather trying to build bridges for organizations, programs, people and fill gaps that exist. Collaboration and partnerships are vital to both art and organizing. It’s a good way to just get shit done.
As mentioned I only work with what I have. My organizing relies heavily on collaboration and best fit is a huge part of that. I don’t believe you should try and force something just because. What’s the point if it isn’t fulfilling a need and even then you always need to ask - what is the need and for whom? I’m so thankful for my partnership in Jaimie for Mom’s Moment - our monthly support group events for moms. Talk about best fit, there’s something to be said about working with someone on programming for mom’s about mom’s with someone you grew into motherhood alongside with.
Catch me working on my living room coffee table that I made from a window because we found a window one day walking home or making collages from old photos either that I took and developed myself or found in an old book that I picked up at Village Discount. (Fun fact - VD is my brave space).
2019 is the year of the mom! At least for me. Mom’s Moment has programming set for the entire rest of the year which I’m so thankful for. Each event focuses on a different topic related to motherhood. Our next round table support group session will be in partnership with Healthy Hood focusing on sexuality and motherhood on April 26th and then again at Healthy Hood for our May 3rd talk about anxiety.
We have some AMAZING stuff happening this summer with the Chicago Children’s Museum around the importance of play and our inner child. We plan to end the year with a party and kid’s art show - reach out if you want to get involved!