On a recent trip to New York City I was fortunate enough to be invited to the Private View of “Scale: Possibilities of Perspective” at the Children’s Museum of the Arts; where one of my favourite pastellists, Zaria Forman is exhibiting two of her beautiful paintings. Little did I know that she would be there in person and that I would actually get a chance to meet this truly inspirational artist.
Dedicating her career to illuminating the projections of climate change with an accessible medium that moves us much more than statistics do, Brooklyn-based artist Zaria Forman plays a critical role communicating arguably the most important challenge we face globally.
There is a sense of documentation in Zaria’s work where she wants to capture a moment in time and stretch it out to last forever. What better way to represent this especially at such a huge scale, than with the immediacy of colour that pastels give?
Unison Colour and Zaria have worked closely together to create some new colours to allow Zaria to render ice and meltwater in all it’s gargantuan glory. Snow and ice have so many more colours than one would expect; seeing Zaria’s work up close I was struck by the vast range of blues, lilacs, greens and greys involved in producing these depictions of cool climates.
‘DeVicq Glacier, Antarctica’
This huge 60 x 90” pastel depicts approximately 2 miles of ice and took over 8 weeks to produce.
‘Jacobshavn Glacier, Greenland’ Just to give a sense of scale to this painting, there’s approximately 100-150 feet between each ridge. Standing in front of Zaria’s work really took me there, making me feel like I was at this particular glacier, I could feel the Arctic wind through my hair and hear the strange sounds the ice makes at it shifts, it really was breathtaking.
Using her own reference photos taken from the many excursions Zaria has been invited on, as well as her memory experiences, she mixes and matches her imagery working from printouts of each section to recreate her renditions of these stunning landscapes.
Zaria blends her Unison Colour soft pastels using her fingers, familiarising herself with the landscape in a very tactile way. She uses Lenox 100 paper which is mounted onto dibond. Her photorealistic style, and the enormity of scale, bring the true beauty and personality of these remote and pristine environments to the viewer’s immediate attention, commanding us to take notice.
Using Spectrafix, a non-toxic sprayfix that doesn’t darken the whites, the work is ready to be framed in a simple white surround behind Plexiglass.
As artists we thrive on the experiences of so many different influences all around us. It was a true privilege to meet Zaria and to see the energy in her paintings radiating through her warm personality. I have come home feeling inspired and ready to take up my pastels after such a memorable time in New York City.