We’ve blogged about Zaria Formans work before, it is nothing short of spectacular. Currently exhibiting in New York and California with more shows planned for 2014. We found a great interview with her on Need Supply that we just had to share with you…
Tell us about yourself, how did you get into art?
I grew up in Piermont, NY, about 30 min north of NYC. I went to Green Meadow Waldorf school from 6th grade through high school – a very small school with an alternative approach to education, in which art is greatly infused. After my formal art training at Skidmore college I now exhibit extensively in galleries and venues throughout the United States and overseas.
In addition to exhibitions, recent projects include a series of drawings that served as the set design for the classic ballet Giselle, which premiered in October 2012 at the Grand Theatre of Geneva, Switzerland (see the drawings and performance photos on the Giselle page) Ten of my drawings were also used in the set design for House of Cards, a Netflix TV series directed by David Fincher and starring Kevin Spacey.
In August 2012 I led Chasing the Light, an art expedition sailing up the northwest coast of Greenland, retracing the 1869 journey of American painter William Bradford and artistically documenting the rapidly changing arctic landscape. Continuing to address climate change in my work, I spent September 2013 in the Maldives, the lowest-lying country in the world, and arguably the most vulnerable to rising sea levels.
What was it like traveling the world growing up, and how did it shape your artwork?
The inspiration for my drawings began in my early childhood when I traveled with my family throughout several of the worlds most remote landscapes, which became the subject of my mother’s fine art photography. I developed an appreciation for the beauty and vastness of the ever-changing sky and sea. I loved watching a far-off storm on the western desert plains; the monsoon rains of southern India; and the cold arctic light illuminating Greenland’s waters. In my work I explore moments of transition, turbulence and tranquility in the landscape and their impact on the viewer. In this process I am reminded of how small we are when confronted with the powerful forces of nature. The act of drawing can be a meditation for me, and my hope is that the viewer can share this experience of tranquil escape when engaging the work.
Can you tell us about your process? How do you create such beautifully realistic work?
When I travel, I take thousands of photographs and make small sketches. Once I am back in the studio, I draw from my memory of the experience, as well as the photographs to create large scale compositions. I add layers of color onto the paper, smudging everything with my fingers and hand.
What do you hope others take away from your work?
I hope they are inspired by it. That could mean a myriad of things. Perhaps they might just find it beautiful to look at. I hope the viewer can feel transported to that place and time that I have depicted, allowing them to experience a landscape they might never have the chance to see. And finally I hope my work will inspire people to protect and preserve these landscapes in whatever way they can, whether that be donating money to organizations like 350.org, or opening a window instead of turning the AC on when it’s 60′s outside.
What are you working on now? Any upcoming exhibitions or projects you can tell us about?
At the moment I am entirely focused on my solo show that opens June 10th in Seattle, at Winston Wachter Fine Art. It will feature the Greenland and Maldives work, and make a connection to the melting ice, rising seas, and drowning island nations. Two other artists that came to Greenland and the Maldives with me, Lisa Lebofsky and Drew Denny, and I are also working as a collective called “Ice to Islands”. We are working towards exhibitions that will include our work as well as other artists focusing on the same subjects. I very much want to visit Antarctica next, but nothing is set in stone!
Where can we find you online?