Aries Season + Ozma Autonomy
The first (of many) times that I dropped out of college, I returned to my hometown in Pennsylvania for a few years. Jo, artist and founder of the badass and beautiful line of adornments, Ozma Autonomy, was one of the many interesting people I met during this super strange time. Both Jo and her work possess a magnetism and fierceness that propelled me to feature her on here in the midst of Aries season. Her jewelry line is gorgeous (I own a few of her pieces), personal, punk, and interstellar. One of my favorite Aries artists, Jo comes to mind when I think of the power and warrior vibe of the ram archetype. Below, she talks about her work, leaving NYC for the west, Return to Oz (which haunted both our childhoods), and an eerie nostalgia for her hometown of Breinigsville, Pennsylvania, which, as a small town PA native, I relate to. Find more on her website and epic instagram feed.
On leaving NYC:
Depending on my mood, this story can sound magical or like just another mishap. I went cross-country for the first time with a casual partner and some friends all the way to San Francisco, where I re-met a person from the east coast that had been on the outskirts of my social circle for years. We took off on some crazy adventure and began a long distance relationship. I loved every part of the adventuring, but the relationship was abusive. We shared a van together and he got me into working in the emerald triangle. I continued working in that region after we split, let go of my apartment in Brooklyn, and chose the unknown route. I’ve been out west ever since.
On the origins of Ozma Autonomy:
This name means a lot to me. I sat on the floor of my apartment in 2012 writing up a bio to mimic a Zoltar fortune teller card. Ozma is the princess of Oz (from the Frank L. Baum books of the early 1900s). My favorite adaptation is the film Return to Oz, which is the most bizarre version of anything Oz-related, and it haunted my childhood. I felt lost then (and I still feel lost now) — like what the fuck am I really doing? Is this the ONE thing that is calling me? I was an art school kid and creativity drives me. I wondered how I could channel it into something sellable that would serve a purpose while helping change the toxicity of fast fashion. There’s meaning in everything I create and parting with that is a big step. Selling pieces of your soul is not easy!
On her creative process:
Verbal communication isn’t my strong point. I resonate more with visuals and physical touch. Growing up poor and an only child, I had to come up with ways to entertain myself on a low budget. I spent time watching my parents fix things and create something from nothing. That’s some fucking magic. This made me a very hands-on person and it drove me head first into designing jewelry.
Growing up, I didn’t wear much jewelry and I cherished very few material items. My social anxiety led me to tinkering with things — a ring around my finger or a long necklace could subtly host my nervous ticks. I see my jewelry as a talisman or an adornment to compliment the wearer rather than as a status symbol.
On being an Aries:
Most of my close friends are Aries and other fire signs. It’s a specific kind of energy that we all have and what it comes down to is how we use that energy.
On her hometown (Breinigsville, PA) and travelling:
(laugh) So drastically different! It’s a very small town nestled between other small towns. There’s a place in my heart for it but if I stay too long (which I have at times) it consumes me for the wrong reasons. Traveling allows me to gain perspective and see vastness. Though, some small town bad habits still trail me at times. The idea to keep moving was neither good nor bad, just a new way to learn. Right now, I want to find peace and normalcy in my work routine. I need this time to focus on my mental health and become whole again. I've learned how to find happiness through constant change and now I want to learn how to find happiness in the mundane.