PHOTO BY FRANCOIS LEBEAU
When I ran into the beautiful works of Brooklyn-based artist, Zaria Forman; I could not help but to delve deeper into the powerful story that inspires them. Her large scale pastel drawings, are filled with the wondrous hues, and texture found within the ocean; telling a story of global change.
In August 2012, Forman led Chasing the Light; an expedition sailing up the NW coast of Greenland, retracing the 1869 journey of American painter William Bradford and documenting the rapidly changing arctic landscape. Continuing to address climate change in her work, she spent September 2013 in the Maldives, the lowest-lying country in the world, and arguably the most vulnerable to rising sea levels.
Zaria was kind enough to share more, about the inspiration and experiences behind her work:
- How were you personally moved by the beautiful landscapes during your expedition?
In Greenland, I felt both the power and the fragility of the landscape. The sheer size, majesty, and beauty of the icebergs is humbling. The ice fjords are alive with constant movement and thunderous cracking--reminders of their destructive capabilities. Yet while their threatening potential is evident, so is their vulnerability; I could see the ice melting under the unseasonably warm sun. Exploring the flat islands of the Maldives gave me a similar sense of duality between power and fragility. The looming, vast ocean demanded my attention, as it tightly surrounded each tiny island. The color, clarity, and warmth of the water endlessly invited me while the waves crashed ominously along the encroaching coastline.
- How did this build a desire to bring awareness about climate change?
I believe Climate change is the most important challenge humanity faces, and it will continue to be for at least the next century. This is why I have devoted my work to bringing awareness and translating scientists warnings and statistics into an accessible medium that the general public can connect with on a level far deeper than scientific facts can penetrate. I want my work to play some small, or big part, in solving the climate crisis. To this end, I work with scientists, writers, and activists to document the effects of climate change on earth’s disappearing landscapes. My drawings explore these moments of transition, turbulence and tranquility in the landscape, allowing viewers to emotionally connect with a landscape they might never get the chance to see.
- What elements of emotion and insight do you wish to evoke through your impressive works?
I was very aware of climate change when I led the Chasing the Light expedition. I had been to Greenland once before in 2006, and it was impossible to visit such a place without the topic arising multiple times a day. That first visit was perhaps what inspired me to question and explore the critical role that art can play in any disaster. Art can facilitate a deeper understanding of any crisis, helping us find meaning and optimism in shifting landscapes. My drawings invite viewers to share the urgency of climate change in a hopeful and significant way. This is why I chose to convey the beauty (as opposed to the devastation) of these threatened places. Perhaps if people can experience the sublimity of the landscapes, they will be inspired to protect and preserve them.
Brass Brother's Films recently released; Perspective, featuring Zaria Forman for their "Making Art New York" series. Zaria shares about her beautiful journey, her purpose, and the moving story behind her expedition to Greenland, to carry out her late mother's wishes. It gives a closer look at her beautiful soul; one that shares goodness, truth, and beauty.
Forman will be included in the Contemporary Realism Biennial at the Fort Wayne Museum of Art, opening this weekend -- An invitational exhibition held every two years highlighting strengths and trends in realism by American and international artists.
Contemporary Realism Biennial
Fort Wayne Museum of Art, 311 Main Street, Fort Wayne, IN
September 20 - November 30, 2014