I am terrified of the dark. In the dark of my bedroom, a towel draped over a door easily becomes an enormous - possibly threatening - face. Vivid imagination coupled with irrational fear has had substantial impact on my work. A few years ago, in the book Mind in the Cave by David Lewis Williams, I found an image (on page 115) of a cave painting in which the painter added pigment to the natural geography of the cave wall to create an abstract face. I envision the artist inside the cave many thousand years ago, seeing the illusion of a face on the surface wall and helping it along with a bit of pigment. Immediately following the unexpected discovery of that image, I began to see myself exactly that way. I can only fantasize about why that artist chose to make those marks. They may have been made in worship, out of fear, or perhaps boredom and it was reassuring and chilling to realize irreversibly, that these are identical to my own artistic motivations.
In the summer of 2009, I moved from Providence, RI to Owensboro, KY for a teaching opportunity. The transition from self-indulgent graduate student to inexperienced professor was abrupt. Several weeks before classes began I found myself sitting at my computer with empty, but hopeful word documents titled “Art Appreciation: Day One” or “Drawing 1, Fall 2009”, and I quickly came to realize the significance of the task and became completely paralyzed. So, I began to examine my college experiences. I made detailed lists about former instructors, assignments that worked and failed, visiting artists that were fantastic and terrible, and finally, books.
In college and graduate school, I was reluctant to write about my work and would go to great lengths to avoid “real” artist statements. In the last year of graduate school, faced with the responsibility of thesis writing, my advisor Brian Shure loaned me Theories and Documents of Contemporary Art: A Sourcebook of Artist Writings. While drafting my thesis, this text provided me with a reliable supply of stimulation, inspiration, and naturally, exasperation. Later, as an art instructor (ironically, prone to assign written artists statements), its content inspires my students and creates for us a platform, within reach, for the critical discussion of artists, their work, and writing.
bio: Erin Zona (b. Lisa Erin Jones, Nashville, TN, 1980) currently lives in Owensboro, KY and is a lecturer of art at Brescia University. Her most recent drawing series, Cosmic Thing explores the abstract relationship between the visible and the spiritual, the material and the supernatural. Zona received her MFA in Printmaking from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2009.