Monday, January 18

Inspirations and Influences 5

I've been stitching away all weekend, but found the camera batteries were dead this evening. So instead of my work, thought I'd post another inspiration and influence. Living in Philadelphia and working near South Street makes the art of Isaiah Zagar inescapable. In fact, he calls Philadelphia the Center of the Art World. It's the center of my art world too, so I must count him in as an influence. His work is like background noise in the city (South St/Bella vista, Queen's Village)- so EVERYWHERE, that you sometimes forget it's there- it just seems normal. But when you stop and look at the details and take into account the sheer scale of what one man (and a cadre of apprentices) has done in one neighborhood, it's astonishing.

Last summer I got to take 10 tweens on a field trip to his Magic Garden (seen above)- definitely worth a visit. The kids played hide and seek and thoroughly enjoyed themselves, cause it's like a dream castle. (of course they ended up pressing the patience of the staff- good thing we were almost ready to leave!!!)

Why is he an influence? He is absolutely committed to his artistic practice and vision. He pours his energy and imagination and joy and pain into his work. And he makes the most amazing encrusted surfaces. In his world, everything is fodder for art- emotion and objects. I think many emerging artists hold a bit of fear of their art- what it means, what it could be, what happens when you send it out into the world. We can learn from Zagar and just put it out there- no fear.


  1. Hi Marie. How much stitching do I do a day? Not enough. I work in a school 3 days a week and get a couple of hours in at night when I come home. When I am not at work I probably stitch for an average of 6 hours. It is my mission to get my business going well enough to give up the school job. Hope you are well, Karen

  2. Thanks Karen, I probably get almost that amount of time in. I'm not sure I'll be able to keep it up when (if?) I start teaching. Like anything, it takes dedication. I mostly stitch for myself and for exhibitions- the business side of my artistic life is sorely lacking effort.

  3. Hey lady, You should check out the documentary that Isaiah's son, Jeremiah, did about him. Jeremiah is a friend of mine and Justin's and we just finally saw the documentary this week (It's avialable on Netflix.) It's pretty intense but pretty amazing. Alot about his personal life but because his art and personal lives are so intertwined...Let me know if you see it and how you like it.

  4. Thanks Darla.. I've been wanting to see it, but missed it when it came out during the festival. Really need to get Netflix now.