Interview with artist OLEK:
The Gone Cat: What inspires your art?
OLEK: Reality inspires me. It’s not always an uplifting reality, which is why, with every piece I create, I aim to display my solidarity with those stifled by oppressive laws worldwide, hoping to trigger a dialogue as well as to encourage a deeper awareness of humanity’s struggles.
GC: Do you use other mediums to create?
OLEK: I’ve been crocheting for 14 years and I don’t think I’ve explored all the possibilities that this simple, yet beautiful technique provides.
GC: What are some upcoming projects?
OLEK: I was absent from New York for a while, since I had some major exhibitions around the world, so now that I’m back I’m focusing on a number of commissions I had put on hold. Also, following the 2016 election, I intend to work with women in New York and the U.S. on community projects that inspire and empower women.
GC: How do you feel about other crochet street artists “yarn bombers” who are popping up around New York?
OLEK: That’s why I crocheted Albert Einstein’s memorial statue in D.C. in 2012, because he had the perfect answer for us all. He said, “Be a voice, not an echo.” I created a piece with this quote for International Yarn Bombing Day in 2014.
GC: What are some of the things you love about NYC?
OLEK: I can’t verbalize the reason why I love being here, but I still remember the feeling when I arrived in June 2000, like I was falling in love and had butterflies. I knew this town would open up different opportunities for me throughout the chapters of my life, and it continues to surprise me.
GC: How long have you been doing this and how has your work evolved over the years?
OLEK: My first gallery exhibition, first New York Times review, and first piece sold was in 2004. Since then, I’ve worked with different materials, used hooks of different sizes, and traveled around the world. I think I’m still learning different ways of using these techniques, and I hope to have a long, fascinating journey ahead of me.
GC: Do you have a philosophy when it comes to street art?
OLEK: I love the fact that it can speak to everyone, even those people who would not normally go inside of a museum or a gallery, who might never be exposed to art at all. Because public art exists, they can experience it for free and anonymously.