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Looking Back with Lyz Olko

Olko has always impressed me, and it's not only for how far she's made it in some of the most emotionally exhausting industries, it is because somehow, she's held onto sentimentality. And this strength is something I will always admire. 


She truly showed us her heart through her first endeavor into zine-making, Everything is Going to Be Fine, and now she's taking it to the next level, letting us into the last fifteen years of her fantastically full life— and since this time Olko has offered office an exclusive of her own story, Tiptoeing Through the Rubble Running Through the Flames, we'll let Lyz take it from here.



This zine is a tenderly put together mix of photos + drawings from the past 15 years combined with found collaged images and personal letters. David Wojnarowicz said that he knew who he was because of the parts of himself that "didn't fit," and it was these parts of him that caused the desire to make things or try to communicate across the gulf of distance he felt from other people. As far back as I can remember I have kept mementos of varying materials, photographed people I connected with, wrote scraps of thoughts on paper. All these roundabout ways to communicate feeling.


I began to take notice recently of the small arrangements of assorted objects and photos placed carefully and unconsciously around my home and studio. Each item is a carefully saved memory of a moment in a time. Some of these arrangements are almost altar like in their juxtaposition, a spiritual offering to my memory bank. The objects range from a ticket stub to a movie I saw with a past love, a raccoon bone (purchased with a second humerus) a former best friend and I gave each other after reading JT Leroy’s "The Heart is Deceitful" years ago, photos I shot in a friends apartment in Paris, scraps of figure drawings or one of many to do lists mixed in with sound bites overheard from songs, movies or a podcast.



This zine is kind of like a quilt of memories. There are polaroids of people I love and feel connected to or inspired by or in awe of. Drawings I made while in art school and drawings now. Running through the lifeline are (recurring themes for me) of the 4 elements: earth , water, fire and air.


The zine opens with scraps of a letter from my father written to his father about me when I was little. It is part of a collection of letters found after his death when I was a teenager and sent to me almost 15 years later. Upon the receipt of the letter collection I promptly put them in a box, and forgot — until I stumbled on them a few weeks ago. The original handwritten letters had been retyped by my uncle to translate my fathers all-caps scrawl, which I realized is also similar to my own after ripping open one of the taped up envelopes. It is later now, and I live in a world where my truths coexist; and all those parts that didn't fit in before fit together.


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