Friday, December 7, 2007

Interview with Raea Zani

q)Tell me something about yourself..What's your background.?

a)I was born and raised in Manchester, NH, though some of you may know it by it’s more commonly-known and glamorous alias Manchvegas. I started various art classes at age five.
By age ten or so, I was in a private program called Studio Elysia; a more intensive and yet liberal program for aspiring artists. We didn’t return home with the exact same macaroni necklace, if you know what I mean. Real materials were offered to tiny artists-to-be.
At sixteen, I was recruited into an organization involving five other young girls, created by three established artists. The purpose was for us as young women to begin developing our voices through art and under the supervision of experienced women artists. That was when the light really went off for me and I began creating from a more intuitive and expressive place.
By the time I graduated high school, I knew I wanted to go to an art school. I took a year off to save up some money, and then was off to Maine of Art, where I graduated with a BFA in ceramics.

q)When growing what was the greatest force pushing you towards art?

a)I have always had an affinity towards the arts. I started with ballet and jazz/tap when I was three years old, but quit that by five. My mother told me I had to be involved in something so I took and an art class and it snowballed from there. My first teacher, Dorothy Abram, was truly inspiring to me.
q)Were you inspired/encouraged by any one person to pursue your craft?
a)I definitely accredit Dorothy Abram with much of my early artistic development. She was one of my earliest art instructors and mentors. She taught me for many years of my life, and her technique allowed the comfort and freedom to become very emotionally connected to the material at a young age.

q)How would you describe your art to someone who could not see it?

a)Oh, I probably wouldn’t. Art is all about interpretation. If I verbally lay the groundwork, one will have a preconceived notion about the work. When backed into that corner I usually say “I sculpt. You’ll just have to see it.”

q)Are certain colours, shapes that you're drawn to?
a)Absolutely. I can only speak of the pieces I am currently working on (tastes certainly change over time). Recently I have been using an organic cone shape as the base of my pieces. It has to do with elevation. My hands tend to want to work with very tactile, organic forms. As for colors, neutrals and earth-tones have always struck my fancy, in my own work that is. I just adore juicy bold colors in other artists’ work, but it’s not part of my repertoire.
q)What other talent would you like most to have?

a)I’d love to be able to do incorporate more metal work into my art. However I have awful tendonitis in both wrists, so the forge just wreaks havoc on me. Maybe I’ll commission a blacksmith somewhere along the way…

q)What's your favourite mediums to work in/on?
a)Clay. It’s in my blood. I have never responded so quickly and so deeply to a material.

q)What artists influence or have influenced you(these need not be visual artists)and how have they done so?

a)It’s funny, visual fine artists like painters and sculptures don’t inspire me as much as musicians and directors. They have their place in my heart, don’t get me wrong. Maybe it’s a case of being too close to the trees to see the forest. While I can admire other fine artists to the ends of the earth, I find myself turning to other things for inspiration. Sometimes I’ll watch a movie and the color palette will influence my next piece. Sometimes I’ll be sitting in my studio staring off into space while listening to music, and the lyrics or the tone of an instrumental piece will resonate inside me, and off I go. It’s a peculiar occurrence, how inspiration strikes. Often it is like lightening; I become almost feverish with an idea and work until the sculpture is complete, no matter how long that may be.

q)What non-visual art interest you and does this have an impact on your art?

a)Music, as I said before, is a huge influence. I think we can all relate to that. I have yet to meet a person who doesn’t enjoy some form of music.
Aside from that, my interest in people greatly impacts my work. I’m a people watcher. I adore people, and learn from everyone I meet (even if it’s learning how not to live my life!). People are the most curious creatures, so loaded and complex, wanting and primal. I’ll never stop analyzing people, and learning.

q)What do you think about artists using the Internet as a forum for sharing their work?

a)Why not? It’s good advertising! The internet allows us to connect with other artists and lovers of art around the world. Do I fear that the internet will replace a great gallery or museum? No. This is nothing like seeing art “in the flesh”. The contours, the texture, the scale of an affective sculpture cannot be experienced in it’s entirety by looking at an image on the computer. Same goes for painting, mixed media, etc.
q)What is your favourite toy,game or other artefact from your youth(and do you still own it)?
a)I’m a silly sentimental artist----I keep everything! I especially love my old children’s books. I reference them from time to time.
What stands out to me most it a box of trinkets I have from my grandmother. She passed when I was quite young and we were extremely close. She used to make ornaments for the tree every Christmas. They consisted of a hollowed eggshell with a hole cut on one side. You could look inside the egg and see plastic deer amongst tiny evergreens, a baby angel sleeping on a cloud…those sorts of things. I suppose they are a bit cheesy, but they were always a wondrous site to me. It was as if my grandmother had captured a moment in time, a piece of a narrative, and placed it in the tiny egg to be strung on the tree. So I keep all those trinkets she’d put inside the eggs. They allow my mind to wander and make up stories.

q)Got any new projects planned?
a)Actually I do. I’m working on an entirely new series and I am very excited. They’re bigger clay pieces with mixed media. I’m in the process of having them photographed, so check back soon!

q)What advice can you give to other artists to help them improve their chances of survival in this global village we call our home?

a)Define survival. If that means financial survival as an artist, good luck. Art isn’t a field you go into for money. Most of my professional artist friends create simply because they know no other way to be.
My advice to “surviving” as an artist in a more general sense: Don’t waste your time trying to fit into whatever is mainstream at the moment. Do what you do in you heart of hearts. Create like your life depends on it, because ultimately, it does. Don’t read too many articles about yourself, and don’t take any of them too seriously, even the good ones. Create for the sheer enjoyment of it. If your art ever becomes real work and you stop enjoying yourself, then stop creating, at least for a little while. It’s easy to try and push production and get burnt out. Your work and your psyche with suffer if you do this. Try to remember that being and artist is a gift, as corny and clichéd as that may sound. Stay humble. Enjoy the journey.

q)Favourite books/authors?

a)Oh gosh, where do I begin? Some of my favorite authors are Kahlil Gibran, Sharon Olds, J.D. Salinger, Daniel Quinn, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Shel Silverstein, David Sedaris, Tim O’Brien… to name a few.

q)Favourite music?

a)I love all types of music. I’m quite and extremist with my moods as well. I can go from something very hard and raw to a quiet instrumental. I rather not use music genre titles as I find them limiting. Also they tend to have certain connotations attached to them. Suffice it to say, I will listen to nearly anything and love almost everything.

q)What do you fear most?

a)Ever heard that saying “A coward dies a thousand deaths, when a hero dies but one.” It’s true; if you live in fear all the time, you’re missing out, and a little part of you is dying. That’s what I fear. I try to go with the flow and not let fear consume me. However, I have a completely irrational fear of cicada, and being sprayed by a skunk. Ha!


At December 8, 2007 at 10:10 AM , Blogger p said...

i love this. such insight...inspiration.

At December 30, 2007 at 1:15 PM , Anonymous David said...

great comment about survial! Enjoyed the artwork and insight.

David Ruhlman


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