You know that feeling when you hear a melody and even without lyrics, you feel as though that song is expressing a deep emotion that you just can't formulate into words? That is what Niki Zarrabi's art reminds me of. The way the colors blend and almost bleed into one another reminds me of the human stream of consciousness —the way our mind unravels a multitude of signals and thoughts into an experience.
When I first met Niki in high school, she seemed more shy. But, the young woman she has become today is confident and open to life. To see how she has pursued her passion for art as a career is an inspiration for all creative minds. When she is not working at Deljou Art Group, she is working endlessly on her own art pieces from her home studio in Georgia. Thank you to Niki Zarrabi for sharing your insight on fear, love, the art industry and the human experience.
School/Major: GSU/Bachelor in Fine Arts with a Concentration in Drawing & Painting
The key to happiness is: Self-worth
My kryptonite is: Procrastination
In three words, I would describe myself as: Laid-back, ambitious, spontaneous
I dream of: Reaching all my goals
Success to me means: Following your passion
Define curiosity: A yearning to learn more and expand the mind
To be brilliant is to be: Dedicated to what you love doing
As a writer and someone who appreciates art, I feel that your work depicts the emotions that I can’t quite describe in words. What influences your pieces? How would you describe your own artwork?
My work explores the complex relationship between spirituality and the science of human existence. I use art to study the structure of our universe as a means to understanding its sustenance. So by recreating the delicate infrastructures of biology in my layered pieces, I am abstractly interpreting my own understanding of our existence. My goal is to provide our audience with an alternate perception of the countless, fragile yet complex elements that come together in order to give us life. I guess it almost acts as an homage to our survival.
You recently co-hosted a successful art exhibition in Atlanta, called Meet Me in 4D. What was the most challenging part of your preparation?
There was a lot of limitations in preparation to Meet Me in 4D. The biggest limitation though was timing. Because of the way shows are commonly set up at a gallery, we had to wait for the exhibition previous to ours to de-install until we could start working in the space. This was incredibly stressful because it only allowed us 4 days to work in the space which is where most the work was to be created. We both have day jobs so we weren't able to work until the evenings and ended up having to pull all-nighters just to have all the walls painted and all the installations finished by the opening.
Artists tend to create works that speak from their heart or intuition. Do you feel a pressure to conform your artwork to the expectations of the market? If so, how do you manage the delicate balance between staying true to your art and adjusting to consumer wants?
I wouldn't say that I feel a pressure to conform to the market but I do however pick up on what viewers respond to best and like the most. Everything that I create originally is my own, from intuition and passion. But when, for example, I create a piece that numerous people reach out to me for purchasing or commenting on, then I will use that same technique or style in future pieces. Because I do, after all, have to sell work to eventually make a living off of it.
Where do you think fear comes from? How does it affect you? How do you deal with it?
I think fear is incredibly subjective because it derives from childhood experiences and conditioned societal norms. One of my biggest fears (as trivial as it seems) is disappointment and failure. I think this is because I grew up with a father who accomplished so much, traveling to America at such a young age without knowing the language or anyone at all and accomplished an immense deal all on his own. Looking up to him along with two other siblings, there's a lot of pressure to succeed and not disappoint. I want to be able to provide for my parents when they retire as much as they have provided for me. I use this fear as further ambition in my career. It pushes me to always be better and work harder.
Which female artist do you admire? How do you feel about the role of women in the art industry?
My list for female artists is incredibly long. Georgia O'Keeffe, Yayoi Kusama, Cindy Sherman, Yoko Ono, Shirin Neshat, to name a few. The role of women in art has definitely come a long way but like the overall patriarchial precedent set in our culture, it has a long way to go. Men play a more dominant role in the art industry. Women have been fighting for years to have as great of a voice and although we have accomplished a lot, we aren't done yet.
What does "awareness " mean to you? Would you consider yourself a spiritual person?
Awareness means being perceptive of where we come from, where we are going, the connections we make along the way. I am spiritual, but not so much in a religious sense as I am in a more scientific way. Like the concepts of my own art, my understanding of creating life in a literal, biological approach, has introduced me to realizing how connected everyone and every living being is. We all come from the same energies, the same elemental compositions. This understanding creates a beautiful sense of unity for me.
What are two key characteristics that a successful person embodies?
Passion and ambition. Plain and simple. If you have one without the other you will more than likely fail.
Love. What do you think is the key to healthy relationships between family, friends, couples, etc?
I have found (unfortunately the wrong way in more than one instances) that communication is KEY in a successful relationship. Relationships are almost impossible without it. You'll be surprised how easily every situation can actually be handled if you just woman-up and confront the situation.
If you had one message or piece of advice to share with others, what would it be?
Down the road, no matter what your goals are or where your heart lies, there will always be sleepless nights, tears, frustration, days or weeks when everything seems to be going wrong. But the key is to always look ahead past the failure and keep in mind that for every down there is always an up. I've learned this over time and the understanding has made me an overall more positive person. It makes me regret all the times in the past I spent feeling down and out about myself or my current situation. All you have to do is look long term and the bigger picture. It'll always give you hope because things always get better.
What is your favorite quote and why ?
My favorite quote is actually a song lyric. I used to want to get it tattooed on me when I was fifteen. The lyric is “there is a light and it never goes out.” I think it is such a beautiful concept. It offers a warm feeling of hope. The song is pretty much about love, saying that if Morrissey (the singer) and the person whom he is riding in a car with were to crash and die right then and there, that dying by the side of that person would be "...such a heavenly way to die.” This leads me to believe that the light that never goes out is the person he loves. I absolutely adore that as a symbol of love.
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