Artist Sara Zielinski uses a variety of media, including painting, printmaking, drawing, collage, and assemblage, to explore both the universality and the complexity of human relationships. Her suggestive combinations of figures and text probe the motives and feelings behind relationships, whether romantic, platonic, sexual, or somewhere in between. At the same time, Zielinski is deeply interested in process. In a world which is increasingly dependent on technology, she deliberately focuses on the tactility and imperfections of the handmade.
Sara Zielinski lives and works in New York City. She has shown at Find & Form, Childs Gallery, and Samsøn Projects in Boston, Mobius and Gallery 263 in Cambridge, and the A.I.R. Gallery in Brooklyn. Zielinski recently transformed her own apartment into an immersive printed environment, covering every available surface with her work. This solo apartment show, ONLY IN HEAVEN, was recently featured in the Huffington Post.
WHO INFLUENCES YOU AS AN ARTIST AND A PRINTMAKER?
Who knows? I regularly revisit works by Frida Kahlo, Henry Darger, Ana Mendieta, and David Hockney. There are a few artists whose attitudes and writings I find myself thinking about almost daily: Tracey Emin, Ray Johnson, and Lee Lozano. With printmaking, I’m inspired by Louise Bourgeois, Tracey Emin, Kiki Smith, and Pablo Picasso. I find their lines to be very expressive.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR SUBJECT MATTER, AND WHAT IS IT ABOUT RELATIONSHIPS THAT INTERESTS YOU AS AN ARTIST?
My work is about human relationships and things we say and things we don’t say. Relationships, or relating with other people, is one of the most universal experiences. And yet it’s so complicated! We each enter every interaction with our own set of associations and moods and anxieties, leading to any number of outcomes and interpretations. I imagine and express some of the motives and feelings that are often unsaid but can weigh heavily on friendships, romantic relationships, and encounters with strangers. I like to play with the play between relatability and individuality.
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT OTHER PEOPLE’S REACTIONS TO IT?
For the most part, I really enjoy people’s reactions to my work. I learn a lot from what people say in response to it. It’s interesting to hear, say, six people tell you they relate to a text piece and then hear six different reasons for how it speaks directly to them.
Text enters my work naturally, often coming to mind simultaneously with images. Other times, I’ve held on to a phrase for weeks, trying to think of the appropriate image to accompany it. Some of the text I use comes from notes I wrote years ago, originally notes for poems. I studied poetry writing in college so I have a lot of notes to pull from.
Text operates in conjunction with my images in many ways – sometimes it may add ambiguity to a scene, sometimes it provides clarity, sometimes it brings humor. Depending on the image and what I want to say, I might use Spanish or Chinese. Many of the artists I admire use text in their work, particularly Kara Walker, Tracey Emin, Frida Kahlo, and Lee Lozano.
YOU HAVE SAID PREVIOUSLY THAT YOU ARE OBSESSED WITH PROCESS. WHAT FASCINATES YOU ABOUT THE CRAFT OF PRINTMAKING?
I love creating and working with multiples. For an etching, you draw an image, maybe draw many studies, then etch the image onto a plate, then print and print and print the same image – you see a lot of it. The repetition involved, both of the actions and of the image, appeals to me. Even though there is a lot of labor involved in creating each print, knowing that there are many makes each one feel less precious and more approachable. Each print is slightly unique and then, once you have many of the same image, if you choose, you can alter each one using other media.
I always love drawing. That’s not to say I prefer it over any others, but that’s usually where everything else starts. At the moment, I’m really interested in combining many media in a single project.
WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON NOW?
Right now I’m working on a few new paintings and etchings and starting to work on building an oversized dollhouse. I’m excited about the dollhouse. I first started making a dollhouse almost fifteen years ago, so it’s overdue. It will be fully decorated, furnished, and populated.
I think a lot about Internet technology and what it’s doing to our society, and those topics are becoming increasingly present and dominant in my work. I’m reaching back towards an earlier time, trying to get to something more analog. The dollhouse is part of this theme. For me, in addition to being a lot of fun, it’s about tactility and childhood fantasy and “old fashioned” ways of kids entertaining themselves, and it’s about imagination.
SO WHAT WAS IT LIKE TO INTERVIEW YOURSELF, AS YOU RECENTLY DID FOR THE HUFFINGTON POST?
At first it was nerve-wracking, but then I realized I had complete control – that was more fun than I’d expected!
Margaret Rose Vendryes is an artist, historian and curator whose subjects, in her imaginative and gender focused exhibit, The Africa Diva Project, are all strong, black, female solo artists. She explores the role of gender in African and contemporary society through these music legends. The images of the women are taken from their vinyl album covers and surrounded by song lyrics but their faces are covered with exquisite African masks, traditionally worn only by men.
Tina Turner, Grace Jones, Anita Baker, Diana Ross, Beyonce, Nancy Wilson, and first diva Donna Summer are among some of the extraordinary singers this artist has captured on paper and canvas, and they immediately strike you as beautiful and powerful. In the music business, getting to the top as a female solo artist is a tough road but Margaret actually sees them as being very vulnerable.
“By wearing these masks, I’m giving them protection and creating a persona that gives them a sense of power and respect,” says Margaret, “in a sense connecting them back to their cultural legacy, the performance of Africa.”
This is her first commercial gallery show and the paintings can be seen through July14th at Child’s Gallery on Newbury Street. Child’s curator Richard Baiano is such a fan he owns the Nancy Wilson, draped in a stunning yellow, floor length gown. Margaret began the series in 2005 and the oil and cold wax paintings, priced from $8,000-$15,000, have taken up to 5 mos to complete.
Top photo by Darren Stahlman
I really do try to follow directions when it comes to my work. I read all the instructions on the back of each finish or paint I purchase, I prep the projects accordingly and I google anything and everything to try and create the best finished product I can. But sometimes…I’m just too impatient — or my vision for the project just isn’t translating into the real world as I wanted it to. If for some reason said project starts to look worse than it did on the side of the road, then that’s when I really start to break the rules. I’ll try anything to fix it in that moment, if it starts to get worse than I usually hate myself for being so impulsive, if it starts to get better, I blow smoke up my own ass and think of how one can be such a genius.
Why am I going on a rant about proper application of paint or stain, or prepping a surface correctly? Because sometimes it really just doesn’t matter what the product says you’re supposed to do with it. “For best results” is all relative.
For instance, take this dresser covered in layers of paint. Latex, oil, lead – the whole shebang. It’s old and looks like crap because paint was just slopped on. Which is why I’m sure it was on the side of the road. I could tell the piece was solid and I was attracted to the simple, mid-century lines and oversized pull handles. Naturally the first step was to remove all those layers of paint. My method of choice when it comes to layers of old finishes? Paint remover — I’ll take the toxic fumes over lead dust. “Strips all paints in 30 minutes!” No it doesn’t.
It was hot as hell outside and the humidity was off the charts. I followed the instructions for proper application. That’s an hour and a half of paint removal in mid-May in Massachusetts. I was burning up like a hooker in church surrounded by toxic chemicals wearing goggles and the thickest, longest chemical gloves you’ve ever seen. We’re talking “Breaking Bad” status here, without the meth. So not only was I dripping sweat onto the dresser, I’m pretty sure the fumes were starting to get to me as well. After playing nice with my putty knife and pick set, I grabbed my beastly wire brush and attacked the dresser drawers. Not only does lead paint cause dementia when ingested — which my brain cannot afford, it turns to goo when using paint remover. I was basically brushing the paint around on the wood.
Once I realized these streaks of forest green and white were here to stay, I decided to take a chance and go with a distressed look. I feathered out the paint to smooth the edges so it blended nicely with the wood and sealed it with polyurethane. Going back to my rules rant — all polyurethane products say they cannot be applied over paint — is a lie. I found this out by breaking the rules and coming up with a different, but equally admirable finished product. The polyurethane is smooth to the touch and dried perfectly, just as it would on a clean, clear wooden surface.
The frame of the dresser was a different story and was able to be completely stripped because of its simple shape. So no problems there.
What’s my point here? Break the rules and get creative. Experiment with your findings. If you picked something from the trash and it ends up looking like shit…you can always put it back in the trash.
If you enjoyed reading this article, or you’re interested to see what else I’ve created, you can find me on Etsy here.
D.H. Lawrence once wrote that, “Design in art, is a recognition of the relation between various things, various elements in the creative flux. You can’t invent a design. You recognize it, in the fourth dimension. That is, with your blood and your bones, as well as with your eyes.” As an interior designer at Troy Boston I have set out to design a space that focuses on “The Art of Function” in Italian design. Drawing inspiration from designers like Eero Saarinen, I have teamed up with expert curator of Italian furnishings and owner of Sedia, Dan Weldon, to help me evoke the architectural allure of Italy, a land as rich in history as it is in culture, and artisanal mastery.
Featured designs from Vibieffe, Toneilli and Saba Italia. Designed by Gianluigi Landoni, Paolo Grasselli and Sergio Bicego.
In our continuous quest for craftsmanship and inspiration, Dan set out to Milan Design Week to explore some of the new collections at the Salone del Mobile — a sprawling, citywide celebration of the most innovative, and most exclusive offerings in furniture and design.
Vessels by Kose designed by Rosaria Rattin.
This year, Milan Design Week was all about the palazzo, with several exhibitions hosted in these spectacular historic residences, dripping with purple wisteria.
Slim lines, muted colors and the use of natural materials mixed with marble and glass seemed to be the common theme among the exhibitors, Dan told me. There was a strong focus on compact and modular furnishings, which stood out in contrast to the more grand collections.With accent colors ranging from bold oranges and leafy greens to purples, and pastels, its safe to say that designers are embracing the warmer tones in lieu of colder polished finishes.After touring our Troy Boston unit, Dan and I hope you’ll feel at home and be inspired by the Milanese spirit. After all, “A ogni uccello il suo nido è bello.” (To every bird his nest is beautiful.)
First interested in the arts at 16 and still painting nearly every day at 93 years old, Anne Lyman Powers has had a prolific artistic career – to put it mildly. Born in Boston and educated at institutions such as Vassar, Columbia and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Powers devoted any free time she had growing up to studying, painting and sculpture. An early influence on her work was politics, reinforced by her experience traveling in pre-WWII Europe. In 1937, at 15 years old, Powers got a firsthand glimpse of Nazi Germany and its propaganda campaign against contemporary art, branding the work of modernists and expressionists as “Degenerate.” Powers herself would explore expressionist work in her painting, and back home in Boston, aligned herself with the Boston Expressionists. Later, changes in her personal life also meant changes in her art. Once married, Powers turned to her everyday life to mine it for subject matter – capturing vacation spots, social gatherings, and her family. However, her eye for political satire didn’t remain dormant for long, and she continues to explore political themes in her work to this day.
Sean Flood is a former street artist turned fine artist and somewhat of a local celebrity in Boston. His dynamic paintings of urban scenes and cityscapes are a reflection of his roots in construction and graffiti art. Flood harnesses the inherent intensity of graffiti, using line and form to build his paintings like the high-rises he depicts. Fresh off two very successful solo exhibitions at Kobalt Gallery in Provincetown and Childs Gallery in Boston, Sean sat down with us to discuss his art, his experiences, and his musings on how he got started as an artist.
HOW OLD WERE YOU THE FIRST TIME YOU PICKED UP A PAINTBRUSH? AND A SPRAY CAN?
I was a pencil guy from an early age – drawing as young as 8 years old – because painting scared me. I actually had my first show at 9! The Priscilla Beach Theatre [in Plymouth, MA] hosted a show – so it was coffee and hors d’oeuvres and then my doodles and cartoons on view.
I picked up a paint brush and a spray can – both probably around 15 years old.
WHAT WAS THE MOST EXCITING ASPECT OF BEING A GRAFFITI ARTIST?
Oh, definitely the rush of trying not to get caught. Then seeing it the next day, knowing you had gotten away with it. There’s a speed to graffiti art.
DID YOU EVER GET IN TROUBLE WITH THE AUTHORITIES FOR YOUR GRAFFITI ART?
Yes. I’ve been arrested three times, spent a couple of nights in jail, paid fines, had a probation officer, etc. One time I was painting the pier on Old Orchard Beach in Maine, during a camping trip, and I’m painting away and don’t notice a cop next to me until he taps on my shoulder.
I had to do community service sometimes. One of the best punishments I got was painting a mural for Boston City Lights – a dance studio in the South End. That was a great gig for a graffiti artist.
WHEN DID YOU DECIDE TO MOVE FROM GRAFFITI ART TO FINE ART?
It was really about getting caught, and I moved to painting to try and stay out of trouble. I was good at graffiti art, bad at getting away. Graffiti art continues to influence my technique though. At first, I would try to include hidden graffiti in each of my paintings, but now I just take inspiration from the quick technique and shapes of graffiti.
WHY CHOOSE THE CITY AS THE PRIMARY SUBJECT OF YOUR ARTISTIC IMPRESSION? AND HOW HAS YOUR EXPERIENCE IN CONSTRUCTION INFLUENCED YOUR ARTISTIC VISION?
I’ve always been interested in buildings. My dad has been a builder in Boston his whole life. For me, growing up with that and working with him over the years has really drawn me to architectural subject. The perspectives and deep space alone excite me. In school, I tended towards figurative painting, but nowadays, I’m more drawn to cityscape paintings – there is more room there for me to develop ideas than with figurative painting, for now….
DO YOU PAINT FROM OBSERVATION OR IMAGINATION?
When I started out doing graffiti, I was focused on using the alphabet, and these raw, expressive marks. With my cityscapes, I’m trying to infuse some of that same expressive abstraction into my observed settings. Actually, right now I’m working on some paintings that are much more of a fleeting glance of a scene, a quick impression. There’s more room for imagination there.
WHERE WOULD YOU SAY YOUR ART IS GOING NOW?
In the short term, I’m hoping to get some inspiration from an upcoming trip to Europe. I’m headed to Rome, Naples, Venice – for the first time, Umbria, Basel and Ireland. I’m going to see the shows while I’m travelling – the Biennale for example, but also I’ll hopefully get a chance to paint some new places for me.
WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE HISTORICAL ARTIST?
In school I always liked Giacometti [Alberto Giacometti, 1901-1966], because of his expressive lines. He builds up forms through all of these different lines.
This is a tough question though. I mean I saw Van Gogh’s work in person in Amsterdam, and I was like “holy shit.”
Watch below to learn more about Sean: Video courtesy of Chris Engles
For the full interview watch here:
Billy Porter, Tony-winning star of the colorful musical “Kinky Boots,” trades his drag gown for the director’s chair with Huntington Theatre Company’s production of “The Colored Museum,” a scathing comedy that cycles through nearly a dozen vignettes that explore slavery, modern gender roles, beauty standards, and other issues as they relate to the African-American culture. Each theatrical exhibits offers a chance to comment, critique, and frequently satirize — as any good “Museum” would.
WHERE: Avenue of the Arts/BU Theatre
WHEN: March 6 — April 5
I found this armoire back in July which I previously posted about and had yet to finish until now – here’s a quick back story on my original idea. My first thought was to create a shabby chic, black and gold armoire for myself. After realizing it wouldn’t fit in my apartment, (I pretty much knew that already) I decided to go back to the drawing board and give it another look. Shabby chic was still the direction I was going in, but this bulky, hard angled piece needed a softer, more neutral look for potential buyers-more of a rustic influence the second time around.
Both mirrored panels were nearly unsalvageable, with a good amount of scratches on them. After I dropped and shattered one, they were ultimately scrapped. I began to fear that the true nature of this soon to be “armoire from hell” was too dark without the mirrors and I had to start over. Previously the black stain worked well because the mirrored panels brought light to the armoire. While the gold Victorian-esque pull handles and crown molding added elegance and detail, they now looked out of place without the mirrors and black stain. Adding anymore black to the piece would have made it even darker and a lighter color for the doors, paneling and drawer faces would have brought out a contrast I wasn’t looking for.
With a pile of vintage pine tongue and groove bead board, some scrapped pallet wood and a can of oil based, high gloss, cream paint, I achieved the softer, more rustic look I envisioned without the mirrors. The warmer tones, custom made pull handles and a glossier sheen transformed the hard angled bulky armoire to something softer and a lot more neutral. I added two vintage brass knobs from my hoarded hardware collection to each door and stayed consistent with brass on the pull handles – though the hinges are still brushed chrome.
I like this piece because of how it evolved into something completely different than I first pictured, all while using salvaged materials. It’s eclectic, though not perfect, shabby chic and unique. It was a pain in the ass using the materials that I did but at the end of the day I created a statement piece from something a person tossed in my dumpster (still wondering why and how they managed to actually put it inside the dumpster).
Like what you see? Visit my website to see more of what I do. Perhaps you have furniture that needs to be seen in a new light.
I came up with this when I was working on restoring the exterior of a home in Newton, more specifically the front door and the garage door. The sconces around the doors were original to the home, which was built in the 1940’s, so they were a bit worn out and on the smaller side. I held onto them for quite some time before I knew what I wanted to do. It wasn’t until I was dismantling the actual light socket and the fixture was standing upright that I thought this could make a unique planter for an indoor house plant or succulent.
The reason I decided to share this idea with you is because the sconces and flush-mount seen here are quite common, and almost always thrown out when replaced. There really isn’t much need for old fixtures that are somewhat blah, but when turned into planters, boring outdated fixtures are now a conversation piece.
This project is simple, your materials are inexpensive and you just need a few things besides some elbow grease.
Match the grade of the steel wool with how much you’d like the fixture to look worn – the higher the grade, the more course it is. I went with grade 0 to lightly buff off some of the paint and reveal the metal underneath.
For any areas that are extremely rusty.
Find the right size for your fixture, preferably one WITHOUT drainage – assume your fixture is not waterproof. Water plants sparingly that do not have a drainage hole. I recommend a succulent, they do not need a great amount of water.
PAINT REMOVER (OPTIONAL)
The copper fixture needed remover, once I started scrubbing with the steel wool and realized there was copper under the black paint I wanted to reveal more of the copper finish.
Use these for the base of the fixture, since you’ve flipped the fixture upside down, most likely it will now have sharp edges.
Only one pane of glass was put back into the planter on the left because the succulent chosen will eventually grow and wrap around the sides.
I chose to fill the copper planter with rocks for a nice contrast with the copper and to cover the terracotta pots inside.
This dining room set was passed along to me from my aunt; it had been sitting in her basement for about 15 years and previously belonged to my grandmother. I was up for the challenge to modernize the set and experiment with it, mainly because I remember sitting around the table in Fort Lauderdale in my grandparents sunroom and I didn’t want it to be trashed. Unfortunately all the before pictures were gone for good after my outdated iPhone 4s leapt out of my hands and plummeted to its death onto my hardwood floors.
Besides the maple tinted stain being outdated (in a bad way) and the table itself looking like it belonged somewhere tropical, it was covered in dirt and a lot of the bamboo was damaged around the feet of the chairs. There was no way I was going to sand and stain the set again, that would have taken quite some time so I decided to use a bonding agent (an oil based paint designed specifically for smooth surfaces and hiding stains) and went with a charcoal gray to match the slightly black tinted glass. Since there are many grooves in the set a paint sprayer was necessary to ensure even coverage and durability as the sprayer can create a thicker coat than both a roller or brush.
Once that was finished it was time to tackle the hideous floral print seat covers (sorry Bubbie). Originally I envisioned a black and white chevron print, but when the fabric seen below was on sale from $35.00 a yard to $5.00 a yard, I made the decision to go with that. The previous covering technique was simple, a standard diaper fold which I recreated with the new material. I kept the diaper fold because the print is intricate and speaks for itself, no need for piping or any fabric nails.
I was on the fence about painting bamboo, but overall was satisfied with the results. The unique lines of the bamboo, combined with the black tinted glass and new seat covers created a one of a kind look that was rather easy to accomplish. It’s also nice to say I saved something that had sentimental value, it doesn’t hurt that I created a dining room set for under $300.00 either.
Since it’s been a little over two years after I found this piece, I think its okay that I tell the truth about this dresser. After a nice lunch at the now closed Channel Café in Fort Point (still not happy about that) with my friend and co-worker Allie Hyde, we drove back to the styleboston office in Southie and parked on M Street behind the building.
It was trash day in late August so I had been keeping my eyes peeled for furniture, as this is the time of year when lots of people toss their belongings they can’t move and find a new rental. It was pouring outside but that didn’t stop me from trying to shove this dresser in my little Toyota which of course, did not fit. I had been gone for over an hour now and the boss lady was not happy, but I decided this dresser was worth getting ripped a new one. I called my sister and told her how much I wanted it and since she is so great, came and picked it up for me in her SUV.
Allie and I walked in soaking wet looking not so stylish….Terri just looked at us like WTF and said “really guys, an hour and a half lunch break?” We also had coffee in our hands so that didn’t help, but that’s not the point – the point is I got my new dresser! So yes sitting in a cold office with a pissed off boss and wet pants was totally worth it, sorry Terri.
The dresser was simple and country, with brown shellac and white porcelain knobs. I decided to add a little flair and make it standout with a bold color scheme and oversized knobs. The four small drawers across the top we’re really what caught my eye. A great piece for a guy – the perfect amount of space for socks, underwear and toiletries. I kept the faces of the drawers clear to expose the Pine wood grain while using a slightly tinted polyurethane to enhance the pattern of the grain. To make the drawer faces standout I chose a deep gray-blue for the frame that I felt complimented the small brushed nickel knobs. Ceramic knobs with a cracked emerald glass overlay from Anthropologie were added to the top drawers. Again adding contrast in size, shape and color. The bold colors and fixtures make this formerly quaint, country and feminine dresser a unique statement piece.
Items from trash: brushed nickel knobs, mirror (refinished), plant tray (made from scrap wood), terracotta pot.
Items purchased: ceramic knobs, paint.
View more of my creations HERE
When possible I generally stop for any piece of furniture I see on the side of the road. The only time I really force myself to keep driving is if I don’t have time, or the piece won’t fit in my car. My rule of thumb has nothing to do with illegal driving methods because rules behind the wheel don’t apply to Bostonians. With that being said, this piece actually came from inside the dumpster at my apartment – so there was no “flipping a bitch” on Dorchester Ave into oncoming traffic or considerately double parking on Boylston during morning rush hour, for a piece of furniture.
I’ve always been interested in architecture and how spaces are designed and built around us. Architecture affects most of us in ways we might not realize, although we all know the buildings and public spaces to which we are drawn. This summer I had the good fortune to meet Janice Stanton, a New York City-based lawyer-turned-documentary-filmmaker, who was vacationing on the Greek island of Hydra, where since 2011 I’ve been renovating a stone cottage high on a hilltop, complete with donkeys, chickens and a spectacular view of the Peloponnese. Over cocktails at the Pirate Bar, a favorite harbor side haunt of artists, authors and summer sailors, Janice talked about her latest project, a film highlighting the work of five world-renowned architects who all happen to be women.
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