Annamay Olsen A’51
An alumna currently living on Staten Island, Annamay Olsen, A’51, is a retired Fashion Illustrator who continues to work in painting and photography. Before her education at The Cooper Union, Olsen attended Art & Design High School, then only four years old and known as the High School of Industrial Art, at 57th Street and 2nd Avenue. One evening while walking on the Lower East Side, she happened to run into a friend, Millie Gruber, who was taking the Cooper Union entry tests and suggested she come along and do the same.
After graduating from high school in 1945 and being admitted to The Cooper Union, she moved from the Upper East Side to her own apartment in Greenwich Village. As the Fashion Illustration major she’d requested had been canceled, she chose to study Graphics instead. She went on to work for 34 years in the fashion illustration field, including for many buying offices, studios and stores, starting with Oppenheim Collins. In the 1960s, she spent time in the Northwest in Seattle and Portland, working for top stores like F&N and Bon Marche, as well as manufacturers, like Jantzen and Pendleton.
In January of 1970, she returned to New York City and settled on Staten Island. Upon retirement, she joined art groups on Staten Island, participating in shows and selling portraits, paintings and crocheted hats. She has spent many years freelancing in art (a gallery of her work is on the Art & Design Alumni Association website), and has enjoyed bicycling as her sport, sewing her entire wardrobe as her obsession, and gardening as a passion. She is 84-years-old this December and is currently writing a family history for her nieces and nephews.
“I’m so grateful for my two wonderful art schools,” she said.”I remember hearing one of my old CU chums say, during a couple of small reunions at ‘Junior’s’ in Grand Central Station’s food court, after 50 years (arriving from L.I. Connecticut, Upstate, Florida) ‘we owe who we are today to our Cooper Union experiences!’ It was the teachers, the neighborhood, Green Camp, the values — without Cooper, we would have missed so very much.”
Throughout her time as a student and now as an alumna, she has recorded everything with a camera to remember it all. Below are some of her photographs from her scrapbook of Green Camp from when she was at The Cooper Union.