The Heroine’s Journey of Jaymi Zents

What is the best thing that I love about my work? Drawing can be exhilarating,  meditative, and full of hope all in the same moment. The serendipity of finding beautiful, interesting patterns in the surfaces I draw upon continually makes me want to find more. There is a feeling of luck and grace in being the one to come into possession of special surfaces to draw with.  Organic surfaces like wood, papers, cloths, and skins,  all have a history of life or use.  Wood and skins, in particular, reveal clues to the life that moved beneath them.  It is important to me to always keep that in mind and honor their history in some way with beauty.
What is my idea of perfect happiness? Getting “lost” in any project is pure happiness.  Those times when an entire day passes and the time was never noticed because the work was just too interesting and fulfilling.
What is my greatest fear? Disappointing the people I love.
What is the trait that I most deplore in myself? Self-doubt and worry.
Which living persons in my profession do i most admire? Mab Graves has an incredible resilience, dedication, and an enviable business acumen.  She constantly creates  art from everything she encounters with pure joy, fascination, curiosity, and passion. As an artist, she is inspiring.  As a person, she is open in her nature,  full of integrity and generosity.
What is my greatest extravagance? Landscaping. Trees, mulch, and my favorite, rocks (lots of them)!  Our yard, all of the work it entails,  and the endless beauty it creates,  inform so much of what is found in my work.  The wood, in particular is a microcosm of all of nature. That helps me to  justify some of the monetary costs that this yard necessitates.
On what occasion would I lie? To protect someone’s feelings if the truth, straight on, would destroy them. I try to cushion the truth, more than lie. Though, as years progress, I am learning that cushioning the truth has enabled people versus just getting to a sore core of truth that would have been dealt with better early on. And yet….
What is the thing that I dislike the most in my work? The business side of art is completely opposite to my personality. Framing is a perpetual annoyance. Despite the best laid plans, I often end up making frames from scratch due to stubborn decisions.
When and where was I the happiest, in my work? Years ago, in college, copying Michaelangelo nearly everyday in my sketchbooks was the happiest period. I would wake from dreams, needing to draw, with full confidence of all anatomy because of all I learned from copying him.  Even today,  when uncertainty rears its head, I go back to drawing from him.  There was a tremendous amount of confidence in, and courage with, my abilities and potential for creating figurative work that is attributed to that period of my life.
If I could, what would I change about myself? The habit of diminishing myself and accomplishments.  So many restrictions are entirely self-inflicted, but I am afraid of screwing up irreparably, especially in a way that would affect others.
What is my greatest achievement in work? Discovering a deeper, more direct relationship to nature within my work, bridging a love of gardening with drawing.  It has changed so much about my work, and my happiness.
Where would I most like to live? In the woods, with lots of acreage and animals.
What is my most treasured possession? As a very visual and visceral person, there is a tendency to covet. Virtually every doll, troll, smurf, Superball and rock collection I ever had still lives with me.  As an adult, the habit has morphed into collecting rocks, wood, and animal skeletons and mummies found in the yard. In short, I have an abundance of charming or lovely crap, all of which I treasure when I see it.
What is my most marked characteristic? Discipline and determination to figure out solutions to problems with stuff (though, definitely with people). I am game to try to repair almost any thing…a few electrical shocks and flashes serve to prove that.
What is my most inspirational location, in my city? Lake Metroparks Hell Hollow Wilderness Area. If you walk the creek in one direction, the sky is in full view, open, clear, with waterfalls to dip beneath, teaming with small, friendly fish.  Walk the other direction, and it looks like New Zealand – mysterious, cloaked in damp moss and mushrooms, massive trees overhanging the creek. The peaceful beauty of nature found here instills a sense of protection and fascination.
What is my favourite place to eat and drink, in my city? Target Cafe….in all seriousness. Their caramel corn is a favorite and we love the people who work there.
What books influenced my life and how? The Untethered Soul Michael Singer is my go-to book when life seems to be unraveling. It puts problems in a better perspective for me. I can feel like I am losing the plot, read a chapter, and realize everyone is busy living their own lives, giving little regard to my moments creating anxiety.
Who are my favorite writers? C S Lewis. There is something in the way he uses metaphors, humor, and morality, with such clarity that resonates deeply.  Till We Have Faces by C S  Lewis is a favorite.   Greek mythology has always been interesting to me and Till We Have Faces retells the tale of Cupid and Psyche in a powerful, very visual, empathetic manner.
You Only Die Once. What music would I listen on my last day? John Paul White, solo and as half of The Civil Wars.  His gift for storytelling, next to melodies, and his voice are powerful and peaceful.  Hozier’s music is a favorite, as well.  Both use moving, powerful melodies, with morose lyrics that I gravitate towards. The acoustic songs are favorites.
Who is my hero or heroine in fiction? Wonder Woman was my heroine from a very young age.  My Mom made a fantastic Wonder Woman costume that I loved dearly…even though the lasso of truth didn’t seem to work and the aluminum foil cuffs would have been questionably effective in deflecting bullets. She saved the innumerable drawings of Wonder Woman, sweetly impressed, even still, by the energy devoted to capturing every detail I could.
Who are my heroes and heroines in real life? I have been graced knowing some VERY strong, independent women who learned to do whatever needed to be learned in order to run a home, without regard for stereotypes of what they should be trying. None of them took crap off of anyone, but continued to be loved and enjoyed….well, almost all (and she couldn’t have cared less if people didn’t approve.)  Growing up, Grampy was the only man who took loads of time to sit with me and teach me how to plan, design, build, and repair. His mind was always kept busy, solving problems, both mental and manual. He was wonderful.
Which movie would I recommend to see once in a lifetime? Once is generally replaced with ” watching on an endless loop”. My tastes are a bit juvenile, in all honesty, for movies. I would love to be all obscure and intellectual, but truth be told, the original Willy Wonka and Tim Burton’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory are all time favorites. Movies, television shows, and music play constantly in the background while working. They do have an impact on the outgoing images. When Radiohead was on a loop, my work, primarily sculpture at the time, certainly took a turn to the more surreal/dream state…in a very fulfilling way.
What role plays art in my life and work? Creating and transforming is a part of everyday. The problem solving that art necessitates informs an ability to function in daily life. The knowledge that a “problem” can create an infinitely better outcome than the original intention has been an invaluable lesson when life goes wayward. There can be a little seed of hope and confidence that any problem has a solution that will transcend original plans.
Who is my greatest fan, sponsor, partner in crime? My beloved, wild, sweet Mommy, my best friend, Grandmother, Godmother Vicki, and a small group of friends who have supported my work, and myself, in good years and difficult ones. Mommy and I find ourselves in the most “predicaments” together, with Grandmother a close second.
Whom would I like to work with in 2018? Andy Goldsworthy’s work is inspiring as a more direct relationship between art and earth. I would love to just  witness him create his work.
Which people in my profession would i love to meet in 2018? Andy Goldworthy, Jenny Saville, Mab Graves,  Pamela Wilson, Amanda Grieves, Olga Esther, Michael Hall, Nick Bibby, Bruno Walpoth, Brad Kunkle, Marco Grassi…there are so many inspiring artists today!
What project, in 2018, am I looking forward to work on? Combining stains and colors with patterns in the wood.
Where can you see me or my work in 2018? Be.Gallery in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, represents my girls and has been such a blessing.
What do the words “Passion Never Retires” mean to me? I will be 108 years old, in a diaper, wielding pencil and paint…happily living out life in the wood and stains.
Which creative heroines should Peter invite to tell their story? Olga Esther, Amanda Greive, Stanka Kordic, Sharon Pomales Tousey , Cathy Rogers, Judy Takacs, Evie Zimmer
How can you contact me?
Facebook @jaymizentswoodgraces
Instagram @jaymizents

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