As most know, the Northeast has experienced below average temperatures and above average snowfall. Normally not really an issue for me, but this year I’m heating my domicile with a wood stove. Yes, it’s as nice as it sounds, but it has its challenges.
Through waist-deep snow, I trek to my studio, dig out the door that has been unopened since the Winter Solstice to fetch chains to strap to the wheels of a snow-locked 4WD sculpture/recycling/loan-to-friend/move-that-stuff/wood truck. Mixed emotions struck hard when I broke the seal to my sanctuary and moved past half sculptures, new-found rocks from the Fall and the scent of metal. Yes, I can smell metal.
While relocating a 1/2 cord of wood from the edge of the property, movement and muscle use were reminiscent of those warm summer sculpting days. Feeling a bit of a void and some artistic melancholy, I hear muffled chimes from my Blackblerry. It’s Agni Zotis. We chat a bit about her interview and my artistic soul is lift again. Thanks Agni. The interviews continue…
When did you first discover your creative talents? I knew art was my thing when I was very young and I could express my self clearly through sketches at school.
For an artist, selling their first piece of work is a memorable moment. Tell us about your first piece or a special piece that was sold. At 19 I was commissioned to paint a mural in a kids room, got $1500 for a couple of days and I loved the fact kids would be playing and sleeping under my heavenly sky.
“Looking for love in all the wrong places” is one of my favorite paintings. Can you give some personal perspective on this piece? “Looking for love in all the wrong places” is the first painting from a series called “Exploration of Love” in 2004-05 exploring the emotions of falling in love. this painting examines the need for a lover to devour, engulf their loved one consumed by passion. Falling in love is a feeding frenzy of the soul.
What drew you to Byzantine Iconography? Interested in mysticism in art of ancient worlds, after graduating Hunter in 1993, I apprenticed with a Serbian monk Makarios, in church in Astoria NYC where I learned Byzantine Iconography and fresco painting using ancient techniques. All artists should have technique and the ability to paint what they wish without technical limitations. I chose one of the oldest as it has been around for 2000 years, I still use similar methods with pigments, gold leafs and layering, I just make it contemporary and relevant to now, modernize traditions.
Recalling your international travels, what three countries had the most influence on your work and why?
1). NYC because I grew up, live and always have my studios here, the rhythm and vibe of my city is an essential part of my thought process, influences and work.
2). Greece because it’s my roots, I’m interested in philosophy, mythology, movement of knowledge within a culture.
3). India because it showed me life and death in one spectrum. I learned about mortality and immortality, living and process of it. It’s where I touched lepers, broke bread with tribal and dined with kings alike.
What’s the history of the Agni Gallery? Agni Gallery was an organic evolution of my world in a special spot in the LES community. Ginsberg lived upstairs when he wrote the Howl, a storefront, transparent, raw with a sign reading “RATED R FOR RANDOM” Both an exhibition space and my studio, I painted bodies of work with my doors open, spilling into the NYC street. It was a creative underground hot spot for artists, intellectuals, poets, musicians from local and international, established and emerging, an important cultural movement in the art world, allowing people to connect (this is before Facebook and the virtual movement). I hosted and curated many exhibitions and events, giving opportunity to showcase artists, lots of process, I learned and lots and lots of fun. The Factory as some called it. Now I m involved with various projects in other spaces in NYC and internationally. Agni Gallery is a constantly evolving processes in progress and I work with great people.
Favorite gallery? I don’t have a favorite gallery although I like some much more than others.
Favorite museum? My favorite museum is RMA, I love the vibe in there.
If you were to give a room full of emerging artists one bit of advice, what would that be? To all artists, be honest and work from your depths.
If you were to receive an “Artist of the Year Award,” who would be the first person you would thank and why? I thank my mom and son, my greatest supporters and critics, keeping me in the light of what is real.