Zelda Zinn was born in Louisiana, and grew up in a big family in Texas, back when it was a blue state. Drawing and dreaming up contraptions were early pleasures. She fell in love with photography when she was 10 years old, having taken a magical photo of her best friend with a huge gum bubble covering her face. She attended an arts high school before studying the classics at St. John’s College. For grad school, she attended the University of New Mexico, receiving an MA and an MFA in photography. Having taught photography for many years, she loves to make photo enthusiasts of her students. She views photography as one of many tools available to artists, and likes to get her hands dirty with other media such as printing, painting, and making sculpture. She was fortunate to be awarded artist’s residencies to the Santa Fe Art Institute and Vermont Studio Center. Both have had a profound impact on her art making. She is represented by Walker Fine Art in Denver and Art-Merge Lab in LA. She continues to be amazed by the worlds of nature and the imagination. Today we share her series, Revelations.
Moving beyond the convention of recording found moments in front of the camera, Zelda Zinn constructs, deconstructs and reconstructs both her subjects and the resulting photographs. Her process navigates the borders between photography and other arts, and operates at the edge where representation and abstraction meet. She approaches pictures as a visual puzzles whose goal is to conjure beyond the page. Zinn’s constructions, filtered through the camera’s eye and her own handiwork, are hybrids that have their origins in the real world, yet have moved into the fictive realm through a process of simultaneous revelation and concealment.
Despite her attempts to work around the camera’s mainstream conventions, Zinn remains first and foremost a photographer. While her work strains against photography’s constructs and assumptions, she works toward amplifying its emotive and lyrical possibilities. Following in the tradition of Henry Peach Robinson, F. Holland Day, and Man Ray, Zinn plays the factual against the fictional. Operating from within the medium, Zinn’s work shifts the conversation toward the subjective and the painterly, expanding the dialogue of photography beyond itself and into new realms of possibility.
The images in the Revelations series begin as photos of suburbs and then transitioned into urban scenes as she moved from Santa Monica to Brooklyn. Working first with her quiet, green So Cal neighborhood, almost devoid of people, she looked at plantings and their relationship to domestic structures. Then in forays in her newly adopted city, she was struck by the compositions formed when crowds moved through the public spaces, creating temporary scenes on the urban stage. How these strangers co-existed in limited space brought her back around to a long-standing interest in body language and gesture.
The photos from her walks are digitally and painstakingly carved up into bits and slices of the shapes and colors seen by the camera. She deletes parts of the picture, piece by piece, by digitally painting over them with white. The photograph’s skeletal remains prompt the viewer to look carefully and to try to reconstruct what could be or might have been there.
To view more of Zelda’s work, please visit her website.