Olga Campbell is a visual artist and author from Vancouver, B.C. Her work includes painting, mixed media, sculpture, ceramics, photography and digital photo collages. She has written two books, A Whisper Across Time, 2018 and Graffiti Alphabet, 2009.
Twenty years ago, after listening to a radio programme about second generation Holocaust survivors, Olga experienced feelings that she’d spent a lifetime repressing. Her experience of grief, sorrow and sadness had its origins in events which happened to her family during the Holocaust. Olga started to confront these feeling by creating a solo multimedia exhibition in 2005 called “Whispers Across Time.” Later she felt compelled to write her family’s story. It felt as if her ancestors were whispering to her, encouraging her to do this. “ A Whisper Across Time” is the result of these whispers.
Q & A session
Question: What do you think these effects will have on the next generation?
Answer: Well I’m hoping, you know I think they were probably passed onto my daughter because we have a hard time talking about this, but then it’s stopped with my grandson. So I think the way to stop it from affecting future generations is to deal with it. To face it head on. We all have our own different ways of dealing, but I think you have to deal with it to stop it.
Question: Is you art changing now?
Answer: I haven’t done enough of it to know. But it is, like my faces are no longer sad because I don’t have faces, I just paint over them. So that’s to be determined I guess. I think it is changing is, yes.
Question: How do you think the current protests on racism will change the trauma of future generations facing the same issues?
Answer: I think it’s almost a tipping point with these protests. It’s as if people have said, “It’s enough, it’s time to change the world,” and I think what the Afro-Americans and the Black people have gone through has definitely influenced the generations, but I think this is again ‘facing the trauma’ and maybe changing the future.
Question: In some of your more fraught pieces I see resonances with Picasso’s Guernica, do you sense influences from other artists in your work?
Answer: Well I respond to Picasso and there are several artists like Basquiat, who is a graffiti artist. There are several influences but, mine kind of comes from within I think.
Question: What do you feel is the best way to educate people over the years to ensure that the Holocaust story is never forgotten or repeated?
Answer: You know, there’s a lot being written right now about the Holocaust and it almost feels as if we’re all compelled to do it because I’ve talked to other people, there’s a young woman called Claire Sicherman who is a third generation survivor, her grandparents were involved (as victims in the Holocaust) and she could feel her ancestors under her skin and so she wrote a book. So it’s almost as if we’re being compelled to write this in order to prevent it from happening again.