Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Artist Profile Series: Vivien Zeph

Vivien Zepf
Thornwood, NY


1. What is sitting on the edges of your work table? You can find my scissors, water bottle, phone, and the errant clipped thread on the edges of my work table.

2. If someone looked beneath the surface, what could be revealed that we might not know about you? My on-line presence doesn't reveal that I tend to laugh. A lot. I'm particularly susceptible on rollercoasters.  I'm reduced to a puddle of guffaws, giggles and tears on rides like The Tower of Terror in Disney World.  They make me feel like I'm being tickled, and I'm very ticklish.

3. What occupies the space between your sewing machine and your cutting table? My work table does double-duty as a sewing surface and cutting table.

4. What is the most exquisite moment in your artistic life? I was amazed when my piece, Revelation, was selected by Karey Bresenhan for the book, 500 Art Quilts.  From that moment, I discovered that I might occasionally make a piece of art that spoke to others in a meaningful way.  When that piece was later purchased -- by a stranger -- from a juried show, the experience was complete.

5. Do you have daily rituals in your studio? Every time I enter my studio, I find myself taking a long, deep breath.  I walk over to the window, open the shade, and look out at the trees surrounding my yard.  After that pause, I feel ready to tackle whatever I'm working on.

6. Reflecting on the quilts that you have made, which one stands out to you? A few years ago I made a piece called, Behind the Barbed Wire, in homage to Margaret Bourke White, the first female Life staff photographer and the first woman to be accredited by and to work with the US military. Her images from WWII and the concentration camps haunt me and they served as inspiration for this piece.  This was also one of my first forays in a more abstract form of expression. It made me realize I could be inspired by a photograph, but not have to replicate it to be true to the inspiration.

7. What do you have an affinity for in your work? Most of my work shows an affinity for bold, saturated colors and relatively simple compositions.  

8. What kinds of patterns do you use in your work to create interest and texture? I like to use more organic shapes for background quilting; I have yet to be successful using straight lines for quilting!  I also enjoy adding paint to the surface of my work. I'm hoping that some day I'll find a way to incorporate hand stitching in my work. 

9. What personal iconography is identifiable to you exclusively in your work? I've made a series of work on hands, another on chairs, and I've dabbled with circles.  I think my quilt Daily Bar Code may be the start of an exploration of the passage of time.  I'm not certain yet if the "bar code" style will continue throughout the series, but it's what I see in my head right now for the next few pieces.  

10. What was your inspiration for the Best of Dinner at Eight? In describing the different themes artists could work from, Jamie and Leslie offered thought prompts.  One of them queried the pattern of our days.  Nothing else pushed that idea out of my head and as a result, that's what I investigated.
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