Where art, cats and plants flourish

Whose House? Olivia’s house

Keeley Braunstein-Black

Olivia Cassie, an artist and curator, has cultivated a home where art, creativity and a deep affection for feline companions converge seamlessly. The walls are adorned with an eclectic mix of artwork, some of her own creation and others from various artists.

“I’m the founder of Black Artists Winnipeg, so I have work from five different artists here right now,” she says. “It’s really important for me to create a platform where Black artists can showcase their talents and connect with the community.”

One particularly captivating piece is a joint self-portrait by Cassie and fellow artist Kevin Manzi.

“It’s like a dual self-portrait of Kevin and myself. So I painted him, and he’s working on me, and then we’re doing the background together,” she says.

Cassie’s apartment is also home to cats Winnie and Alfie. The feline companions have carved out their own niches, with Winnie typically lounging in one spot and Alfie exploring the depths of drawers or playfully hiding under the bed.

Alfie is “short for Alfredo, because he’s kind of like a noodley boy. He’s just kind of floppy and a little bit weird,” she says. “And Winnie reminds me of Winnie the Pooh. We actually adopted them together from the same family.”

Beyond her artwork and cats, Cassie’s apartment offers a glimpse into her love for literature and plants.

Her commitment to diversity extends to her reading choices. “I made a conscious decision to only purchase books written by people of cultures other than mine,” she says. Cassie’s collection includes books on Chinese, Indian and Nigerian mythologies.

The corner of her apartment is a little plant haven. “I propagated most of the plants by myself from cuttings provided by friends and family,” Cassie says. “I really love plants and want to add a lot more to my collection.”

Cassie’s bedroom is home to a captivating collection of crystals, intriguing tarot cards, a family portrait and a charming piano jewelry box. These cherished items contribute to the enchanting tapestry of her personal space.

Cassie’s apartment is not just a physical space but a reflection of her journey as an artist, curator and lover of life’s diverse joys.

Marvel fan (left) - “I really like Marvel and Star Wars, so I have my Infinity Gauntlet. Sometimes I’ll change the hand position, but usually it’s just that.”

Birthday gift (right) - “My brother bought these for my birthday, and I absolutely love them.”

Daily tracker - “I have this tracking chart that I use to help myself keep on track for self-accountability. I found it at Indigo.”

Current project - “This one here is actually a joint project. It’s a dual self-portrait of Kevin and myself. I’ve never actually worked on another canvas with someone else, so it’s kind of interesting.”

Family heirloom - “My sewing machine is actually my great-grandmother’s sewing machine. She gave it to my grandma. My grandma gave it to me. Now it has its home here.”

Published in Volume 78, Number 05 of The Uniter (October 5, 2023)

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