The University of Chicago, B.A.
abstract, figurative, political painting painting
I paint because of my desire to use my feelings and knowledge together with my own strong but less obvious impulses to develop an interesting work of art that may bring insight, diversion, comfort, or visual recognition of our fate now.
As time has passed I have learned that the important thing for me when beginning a painting is to give myself over to the quiet ideas and the mysterious beginnings of an image. I try to keep out the carping comments that I think others and my own inner critic might possibly make. I swiftly pursue integrating preliminary material into something approaching a well-developed version of my work.
I do not worry if I am mixing too many or too few artistic traditions. After all this is who I am, in some way a unique artist, worthy of an audience’s attention.
--Zelda Edelson, March 26, 2010
Becoming and being an artist is a life-long process. It may not be something that an individual or their relatives recognize early. The standard such recognition sees someone who is a quick study at the piano, or someone who copies realistic images rapidly, or mimics people in the movies. No, such talented people do not necessarily move on to becoming true artists. It takes persistence and perserverance. The artist of whom I am speaking is a person who takes in a world of sensations and experiences that she stores up and links by ever-building connections, that may not be conscious, or overtly active. But still they are still they are there waiting to be called up and used. Perhaps along the way this person has gotten training in the art that interests her. Perhaps this material will appear overtly or may have metamorphed into a new entity, that blends this material with stuff at the level of greater consciousness and her training enables her to integrate and make manifest what has engaged and express it n a new form. So even while a person may spend years in some “nonartistic” pursuit they may still be looking at life with the eye and mind and intention of one who sees things as the stuff of dreams, the stuff that they ultimately turn into some kind of art, modest as it may be. The foregoing is somewhat the pattern of my own life, moving from a life and pursuits seemingly ulnrelated to my current major interest, painting. But the seeds of a would-be artist had been planted. I early became addicted to fairy tales and the weird, scarey, and wondrous worlds they presented. Then I became hooked on reading other things, not just school assignments, but fiction (whether high or low in the eyes of critics and elders), biography, drama, just about anything I could dig up in the library. Eventually I went to college and majored in English literatlure, after which I held various positions as an editor and writer, meeting people of different backgrounds and pursuits. For tweny -five years I worked as a publisher and editor at the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, a place of many wonders, particularly its dinosaurs for which it is world famous. I learned a lot from my experiences there. My favorite one had to do with my responsibiity for the design and illustrations of its prize-winning magazine, Discovery. Throughout all those years, the people and works that most captured my imagination were those who were artists, whether literary like Jane Austen and Virginia Woolf and Barbara Pym and Darwin (in his greatness as a writer as well as a scientist) or painters like Matisse and Picasso--people that Aristotle would have called “makers.” After a lifetime spent as a wife, mother, and editor and writer, I retired. I decided I wanted to pursue painting, an endeavor that would primarily be my own, rather than work who supported the work of others. Throughout my life I had taken occasional courses in painting and drawing, but I wanted to paint on my own and just paint in whawere unpolished works, but from which I learned and went on to do other paintings. I worked out a mode of creation that was good for me, if not helpful to other painters. I set down swaths of mediums (gritty) and a few colors and then proceeded to work them with a palette knife. My main characteristics were to paint with freedom in an uncritical way, seeking to find what the parts and the whole of the painting were saying. It was a kind of dialogue. As it went back and forth in my mind, I came to see where I made to make changes, or do further work.- Zelda Edelson, August 8, 2009