Olivia Elmore


I’d stare at the ceiling, walls, and floor
Anything but what was in front of me

I refuse to talk
I won’t say yes

Because yes is an admission to something being wrong
An admission to there being something
“We need to talk about”

Words that need to crawl off my tongue
And stitch themselves together for something to change

But I don’t know what letters to use to make sense of this

I believe that the first step to truly understanding anything is facing it. You cannot expect to make sense of something you ignore. When I avoided how I was feeling, I felt terrible. But now I am working towards addressing my feelings head on. We often think that by ignoring something it will just go away, but I think it will always be there. I find the process of making handmade collages therapeutic—a time when I reflect on my own emotions. I want people to consider how they are feeling and what may be contributing to that or how to get through it. I want to make our emotions visible through photographic visuals and poetry written in response to some of the amazing subjects in my artwork.

Olivia Elmore is a 17-year-old multimedia artist and photographer. They grew up in Pennsylvania and moved to East Harlem when they were twelve. During that time, they began to explore their identity as a queer person. This was a struggle for them, but through coming to terms with themselves, they found photography. Through photography, they explore their own emotions and the emotions of those around them—putting into images what people struggle to put into words. They find peace in creating handmade, collaged portraits that dig deep into our minds and emotions to find true understanding of oneself. Olivia is currently a student in the International Center of Photography’s Teen Academy Imagemakers program.