Olek has lived in New York City for ten years, hailing from Poland and currently residing in the Gowanus neighborhood of Brooklyn. We visited Olek at her studio residency at the Artists Alliance, in the Lower East Side. Her brightly colored, highly-patterned creations make up installations and wall pieces, as well as costumes for performers in her public pieces.


NNNY: What was the evolution of your becoming an artist?

Olek: It is 3:18pm, Friday, June 25th. I have just returned from my meeting at The Brooklyn Museum, where I will be doing a performance piece on Saturday, and I am getting ready for the opening and performance for the show at the Cuchifritos gallery on the LES that culminates my 6 month residency at AAI-LES rotating studio program.

How did I get here? Work. Putting everything on one card. I took a risk. I left Poland in 2000 with a back pack, which I still have and use. I didn’t come here to make art. I came here to live. My work changes from place to place. In Poland, I studied the science of culture. With a miner’s work ethic, I long to delve deeper and deeper into my investigations. My desire for new, took me away from industrial, close-minded Silesia, Poland. I have always sought to bring color and life, energy, and surprise to the living space. My goal is to produce new work and share it with the public. I intend to take advantage of living in NYC with various neighborhoods and, with my actions, create a feedback to the economic and social reality in our community.


NNNY: Describe your studio practice.

Olek: I open the door of my studio, and I work. Someone said…it might have been Chuck Close: “Inspiration is for amateurs. I go to work”. This is my motto. I work. Every day I have to come up with a new idea. Every day I have to produce something. A loop after a loop. Hour after hour my madness becomes crochet.

Life and art are inseparable. The movies I watch while crocheting, influence my work, and my work dictates the films I select. I crochet everything that enters my space. Sometimes it’s a text message, a medical report, found objects. There is the unraveling, the ephemeral part of my work that never lets me forget about the limited life of the art object and art concept. What do I intend to reveal? You have to pull the end of the yarn and unravel the story behind the crochet.

NNNY: How has moving to the United States influenced your art?

Olek: In the beginning it wasn’t about art. I moved here, as I said before, to live. But really….in New York, I rediscovered my ability to crochet and, since then, have started my crocheted journey/madness. NY made me who I am right now. Everything started here. I entered this city with a blank page as a beginning of a new chapter of my life. And this is one of the reasons I cannot say I am a Polish artist, or American one, or Brooklyn. I am a sculptor.

I don’t want to be put in any category or be associated with any label. Being an artist here is not about that. That influenced my work and that is why my body is completely covered in my actions by a crocheted camouflage skin to mask the identity: personal, cultural, sexual. NYC made me interested in developing new ways of creating a dialogue with the viewer on both visual and aural levels. For the last four years I have been creating socially conscious public “actions” that shape, inform, and transform the dialogue between the performer, the observer and the participant.  This triangle is a mixe of all of us: native New Yorker, tourist, new explorer.


NNNY: What are your upcoming shows, projects, etc?

Olek: In  2010 I was commissioned by the Brooklyn Museum to do a one day community based action “bring your clothes”. I was crocheting a new wearable sculpture out of viewers’ clothes.

My infamous crocheted pink bike is a beginning of a bigger splash. In September, you will find my work spread on the streets from LES to Nolita. Follow the thread and the objects and they will bring you to my solo show at Christopher Henry Gallery.

In the summer of 2010, I myself  can be found in my Gowanus studio with a pile of movies to watch, and a bottle of spiced polish vodka aggressively re-weaving the world as she sees fit.

Olek Upcoming Shows:

- Collected: Work Space, Cuchifritos Gallery, NYC - open till August 5th, 2010.

- Weaving in and out, no longer empty, Harlem, NYC - open till August 31st, 2010.

- T minus 20, Christopher Henry Gallery and Ignite, NYC, opening reception July 8th, 2010.

- Interwoven, evenings in performance, The Textile Museum, Washington D.C. - July 24th-26th, 2010.

- Jungle boogie, Brooklyn, NY - August 2010.

- Bite: Street-Inspired Art & Fashion, Third Streaming, organized by fashion designer and independent filmmaker Zulena Griffin, Yona Becker and Junichi Masuda. September 7- November 25, 2010.

- New Work, Christopher Henry Gallery, NYC, solo show - September 2010.

- Crocheted Painting To Shake Hands for, Dumbo Art Festival, Brooklyn,NY September 2010.

- New Work, Long Island University, Brooklyn, NY - November 2010.



For more information on Olek please visit her website:



© 2010 Non-Native New York

Selected Artists