A Storyteller’s Collage – interview with Carol Zimny (15 November 2010)

carolzimnyIntroduction

Some time ago, Carol purchased my eBook and, thereafter, contacted me. She told me a little about her work and directed me to her website. I had a look and was fascianted with her work. I hope that you, too, will be as interested in Carol’s story as I am. Therefore, without further ado, I have great pleasure in introducing to you, Carol Zimny …


Aneeta: Carol, thank you for sending me information about your work and also for agreeing to this interview.

Carol: It is my pleasure to be able to participate by ‘telling’ my own story.  Thank you for this opportunity.

Aneeta: Let’s start with something about you. Tell me where you were born, where did you grow up,  what you do for a living and where you live now.

Carol: I was born in Brooklyn, N.Y.  I grew up in Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island.  These were three very separate and distinct experiences that have made deep impressions on me. Brooklyn is a borough of NYC with bustling masses of various cultures, Queens is a more laid back part of NYC and Long Island is a backyard suburban place.  Presently, I live on Long Island but hope some day to go back to the colorful culture of the City.   In terms of what I do for a living, I have recently started to work with women’s groups, having them tell their own stories through words and collage, and of course I make collages.

Aneeta: From your website (http://www.carolzimnyartist.com), I note that you have something called ‘Life Story Art’. Please, do explain what this is all about.

Carol: I am a storytelling collage artist.  ‘Life Story Art’ is a collage series depicting stories of the human condition that we all experience.  It focuses on seeing people in their own environments, showing that humans have much in common – yet each of us is unique.

Each work is a custom made piece reflecting the life of a person by using details of that individual’s life – in essence creating a ‘personal portrait.’

Rich colors and numerous details pull viewers into the picture so they have a feeling of “visiting” for a while.  I use candy colored combinations of fabric that evoke a sense of ‘flavor’.  I also integrate optical effects that provide harmony or visual ‘pop’.

Aneeta: Again, from your website, I am intrigued by this statement: She inspired me to want to tell stories in my own way. For the benefit of my readers, please explain who the ‘she’ is in this comment and also what is your way of telling a story.

Carol:  “She inspired me to tell stories in my own way”  ‘She’ refers to my grandmother, Jeanette, She was a spellbinding raconteur, who since my early childhood, regularly came to dinner.  Listeners would gather around the table, lean in and savor every word.  Her verbal images were vivid and captivating.  She was a great communicator who was able to connect with many people through her tales.

‘Telling stories in my own’ way means that I take the essence of a person – physical coloring, personal taste, pastimes, hobbies, etc. and I create a visual narrative.  By packing a picture filled with details, it engages the viewer to spend some time drinking in the qualities of the subject. The viewer comes near and leans in, spending time to learn about the person who is illustrated.  On my website www.carolzimnyartist.com the collages shown have accompanying narratives next to them for viewers to understand the symbolism in the collages.  As the saying goes “A picture is worth a thousand words” which could imply that each picture is open to many different interpretations however, I included text so that these visual stories could be read with perfect understanding of what I mean.  Pictures and words together create powerful specific messages.

Aneeta: I like the gallery that you’ve created. Can you choose 3 items from there and explain the significance of each one, please?

Carol: I am always interested in the human condition.  What is universal to us all is fascinating to me and what I find especially compelling is that each of us is unique.  We all have personal stories to tell.  I focus on telling one person’s story at a time.

queenschildhoodCollage #1: The collage ‘Queens Childhood’ is about my own childhood.  How wonderful it was!  Everyday was filled with friends and play.  We played hopscotch, jump rope, and kickball all day long.  There were scores of kids that lived on my street.  We connected! It was not only the children but, the adults too that felt the camaraderie.  We knew that we all belonged to a community. It would be nourishing and powerful for each of us as human beings to have the sense of belonging just as I did in my good old Queens neighborhood.

bellasheartCollage#2:  ‘Bella’s Heart,’ is about mother love.  The pure and strong affect of a mother’s love can make a home and family a warm loving cocoon.  Love and support is shown in the nurturing this woman does for her family.  Each family figure is comprised of one or more hearts as are the trees that surround them. This shows that love begets more love and creates a place that is safe, warm and happy.

givingtreeCollage#3:  ‘The Giving Tree’ is about a special loving person.  She is remarkable. She is a great support to friends and giving to strangers as well.  She can be so giving because she nourishes herself with eating healthy food, meditation and spirituality.  She is at home in nature but also draws great strength from the metaphysical.  The significance of this piece is to show how extraordinarily giving a person that is balanced can be, because she is nourished in body, mind and spirit.

Aneeta: What elements of storytelling do you have to focus on the most in your work?

Carol: The three collage works that I have chosen to talk about are ‘Queens Childhood’, ‘Bella’s Heart’ and ‘The Giving Tree’.  I chose them because they represent universal themes that are very much needed in all of our lives – a sense of community, having a nurturing family and connecting with friends and others in a giving way.  These art pieces are all about being connected to others in a meaningful way.  To me, I have come to realize that having a network of people we care about and that we are connected to is the key to a happy life.

Aneeta: Carol, this is all I have to ask. Is there anything you’d like to add?

Carol: Yes.  I just wanted to say that my creative process grew originally from my training as a jeweler. I was trained as a jeweler at F.I.T. in N.Y.C.  I enjoyed manipulating metal and working with my hands. I worked in the trade for 8 years.  A jeweler must have a torch to solder metal.  After I left the jewelry trade, I did not own a torch.  I took some figure drawing classes and ended up using my hands and imagination to create colorful scenes.  I was looking for inspiration for subject matter and that is how I settled upon depicting stories from various people’s lives.  It is an endless source of inspiration.

My prints are available on my website www.carolzimnyartist.com or if you would like to reach me, email me at contact@carolzimnyartist.com I would be most happy to create a one of a kind custom piece for anyone interested in having their ‘Life Story’ portrayed.

Aneeta: Carol, thank you.

Carol: Aneeta, thank you for this opportunity.


This piece may NOT be freely reprinted. Please contact editor @ howtotellagreatstory.com for reprint rights.

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