(Header Photo by: Quinn Miller-Beddell)
Zaria Forman is a New York based artist whose drawings are nothing of what we’ve seen before; photorealistic large-scale pastel images made by hand recreating natural landscapes. A seasoned traveller since she was a young age, Zaria has always been amazed by the changes of natural phenomena. Her inspiration translates into work so powerful that makes us feel a connection with the image.
I had the chance to ask Zaria a few questions and to learn more details about her inspiration and work.
In the Image: Greenland nº63 Image Courtesy: Zaria Forman
Tell me a bit about yourself, how did you start your career as an artist?
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. I taught yoga for 10 years. I’ve been drawing ever since I could hold a crayon, so it’s really the years that trained me, but I did major in Studio Art at Skidmore College.
There was actually never a moment when I decided to make art a career. Certainly not while I was in college, and afterward, I just kept making art because I enjoyed it and exhibition opportunities were offered. One show led to another, and now I find myself making a career of it, and feeling very grateful for that.
Where do you find the inspiration to create such a realistic image of natural landscapes?
The inspiration for my drawings began in my early childhood when I traveled with my family throughout several of the world’s 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 the Image: Greenland nº69 Image Courtesy: Zaria Forman
I have very fond memories of our family trips and consider them a vital part of my upbringing and education. I feel very fortunate that I had the opportunity to see so much of the world, and to learn first-hand about cultures so vastly different from our own. This myriad of experiences instilled in me a love and need to continue exploring and learning for the rest of my life.
Which other artists have influenced your work?
My mother, Rena Bass Forman, was a wonderful fine art photographer. Her aesthetic has significantly influenced my work, or perhaps it is simply in my genes! She took inspiration from early 19th century photography, and particularly the work of Dunmore and Critcherson, the two photographers William Bradford brought with him on his expedition to Greenland in 1869. I learned of Bradford’s paintings from my mother, and was immediately enchanted by his representations of the Arctic landscape. I especially admire Bradford’s (and, for that matter, Turner’s) sense of color, light, and form. Robert Longo’s water and planetary drawings have always been a huge inspiration as well. Vija Celmins, and Dozier Bell too.
How would you define your art?
My drawings explore moments of transition, turbulence, and tranquility in the landscape, allowing viewers to emotionally connect with a place they may never have the chance to visit.
I choose to convey the beauty, as opposed to the devastation. If people can experience the sublimity of these landscapes, perhaps they will be inspired to protect and preserve them.
In the Image: Maldives nº 3 Image Courtesy: Zaria Forman
You could say that your art shows the effect of climate change and promotes the public to ask further questions to take care of the environment; what would you say is the biggest threat to our oceans after climate change?
Since I am an artist, and not an environmental scientist, I only know what I read in the news. I would guess though, that both overfishing and pollution are two of the biggest threats, in addition to climate change.
What plans do you have for the future?
My next solo show will take place at the Winston Wächter Fine Art’s Seattle location, in February and March of 2017.
Zaria is now traveling to the Falklan Islands, South Georgia, and Antarctica as an artist-in-residence aboard the National Geographic Explorer. You can follow her adventures on her Instagram where she posts amazing photos of her journey.