Zaria Forman: Perspective

Appreciating the Healing Power of Nature Whilst Contemplating Climate Change

Although she inhabits a bustling and crowded city, New York artist, Zaria Forman, recognises and appreciates the rejuvenating power of remote, desolate landscapes. Her passion for portraying the beauty of nature in her art was sparked in early childhood, when she would travel around with her Mother, who was a Fine Art’s photographer.

‘She taught me everything I know about light,’ Zaria told us about her mother. ‘How to wait for it, and how to recognize those magical moments when it’s just right.’

In this Brass Brother’s film, Zaria explains what drives her to create her well-loved large-scale pastels, which document the Earth’s shifting landscape and the effects of progressive climate change. We caught up with Zaria to find out more about her work:

The Plus: What was it like being in touch with nature and art at such an early age?
Zaria Forman:
I developed an appreciation for the beauty and vastness of the ever-changing sky and sea. I loved watching a far-off storm on the western desert plains; the monsoon rains of southern India; and the cold arctic light illuminating Greenland’s waters.

TP: How does your mother influence the artist you are today?
My mother and I were very similar- I inherited her aesthetic taste and although our mediums were different (I make drawings and she was a photographer), our compositions were often quite similar. She took me to far off, remote and often desolate landscapes, influencing my eye from an early age.

TP: Can you describe your process of creating these large-scale pastels?
When I travel, I take thousands of photographs. I often make a few small sketches onsite to get a feel for the landscape. Once in the studio, I draw from my memory, as well as from the photographs. I begin with a very simple pencil sketch and then I add layers of pigment onto the paper, smudging everything with my palms and fingers and breaking the pastel into sharp shards to render finer details. I love the simplicity of the process, and it has taught me a great deal about letting go.
I become easily lost in tiny details, and if the pastel and paper did not provide limitations, I fear I would never know when to stop, or when a composition was complete!

TP: Where are you headed next in your travels?
I plan to visit Antarctica this coming December/ January.