“Multimedia Could Be My Middle Name.”
Dana Zurzlolo’s work has been part of Glenn Dallas Gallery from day one. She was one of two featured artists in our first exhibition, Infinite Shades. That show evaluated society, perception and humanity through visual arts, color theory and global crafts. We focused then on Zurzolo’s gun project which vibrantly explores American gun culture. To say the least, responses to the installation were emotional.
Fast forward to our fourth exhibition, God is a Woman. This show features art from 52 women artists, including striking textiles from Zurzolo. Guests are still in awe of the work, now in a different capacity.
Art enthusiast and gallery attendant, Hali Galloway reached out to Dana for an exclusive look into her work and inspiration.
Hali Galloway: What led/ influenced/ molded you to become an artist?
Dana Zurzolo: I must have been born an artist since I have left the role many times for other things. It calls me back, over and over. My mother claimed that, as an infant, I would stare at paintings and it was one of the ways she could get me to stop crying – bring me to color and form. Color has always spoken to me and been intuitive.The nuance of form and composition, I had to learn along the way, but again, I came about it oddly: structure and sculpture I learned through an extension of home ec and sewing, draping and cutting, etc. I learned pattern and surface design as an extension of designing quilts, social action banners, flags and poster making… I eventually learned digital imaging, typography and illustration in a more formal program at UCLA. Then eventually received an MFA in Creative Practice of Art, as well as teaching digital art at Pepperdine University for 16 years.
HG: How do those influences manifest themselves in your work?
DZ: I don’t follow traditional rules, in any medium. I am open to using any medium and love exploring new combinations. I often create work to be used and shown outside the white box of a gallery. I have used silk scarves, flags, designed games and performed interactive games. I show in galleries when they ask me to, but otherwise find myself participating in the world at large, only labeling myself “artist” when needed.
HG: How have you seen your work evolve from when you first became an artist to present day?
DZ: My early work was very decorative OR very political. Now it’s often a combination of both. Over the past decade the issue of gun violence has been of concern to me and I have created several shows addressing this. Technology has also changed my work substantially since I do surface design on the computer and use an expensive sewing machine along with our timeless tools of brushes, canvases, and needle and thread.
HG: What inspired you to do such a unique medium of quilting and what is your artistic process?
DZ: I love textiles and the idea of creating pictures with pattern came naturally. I taught myself to embroider, quilt and appliqué without knowing they had names and long histories in women’s lives. It has always felt so natural to me. Often I have sewn thinking of women at the turn of the millennium sewing garments using the exact same tools (needle and thread). It became a feminist act in that way, and remains one still. My process is hard to pin down. I can paint a canvas, then photograph it, then create a repeat pattern in photoshop, turn it into fabric, cut it up and then quilt it, or stretch it and paint over it all over again… Multimedia could be my middle name.
HG: What are your themes/ ideas/ goals of your works? Then specifically, what was your inspirations for your works displayed in the Glenn Dallas Gallery?
DZ: I want to bring beauty into the world while addressing, at times, difficult topics. Why this approach? It cuts through people’s denial systems. It breaks down internal barriers that block us from feeling things. My goal is to make people feel things. It is a bit manipulative, but I can use color and subject matter and be soothing or shocking. How cool is that?? But truthfully, I do it for me, to soothe me. Art making is how I negotiate the world. Without it, I am not participating.
HG: What is your intended reaction from your viewers from these works?
DZ: My intention is to try to get people to stop and look at the motion of line and form in a way you usually do not see in this medium. But most of all, I wish to bring beauty into the world.
HG: What are some techniques, mediums, or ideas that you want to explore further in your career that you have not yet had the chance to explore?
DZ: Sculpture; the tools and solidity is a direct contrast to the fluidity of textiles and is a strict focus on form over color. I would like to combine the strong lines of steel and iron with silk and nylon or cotton. I think of ships with sails, flags with steel poles, a needle with a thread…