Zaria Forman

United States 1982



Zaria Forman
Zaria Forman
United States
April 11, 2015
Alias of Jasmina Sevic, a researcher and author for Widewalls. She graduated from the Faculty of Political Science (Department for Journalism) in Belgrade in 2013.

Have you ever found yourself in front of a painting that looked so breathtaking that you couldn’t find the right words to describe it? If your answer is negative then you definitely haven’t seen the work by Zaria Forman. Inspired by the most remote places on the face of the Earth, New York-based artist creates amazing hyper-realistic pastel drawings that include carefully rendered images of glistening icebergs, turbulent arctic waters, and crashing tropical waves. Among being masterful pieces of art, her stunning highly detailed artworks – that many might mistake for a photograph – are playing a role in raising awareness about some of the most important environmental issues including global warming and sea-level rise.

Zaria Forman - Deception Island, Antarctica - 2015 contact life gallery
Zaria Forman – Deception Island, Antarctica, 2015

Influence of her Mother Rena Bass Forman

Born in South Natick, Massachusetts, in 1982, Zaria Forman grew up in Piermont, New York, half an hour north of New York City. The inspiration for her drawings began in early childhood. Her mother, Rena Bass Forman, spent much of her life, taking photographs of the most remote and often desolate locations in the world. The cold and isolated landscape of the Arctic consumed her interest for over ten years. Her pieces from her trips to the North Pole has been compared to artworks created by 19th-century photographers John L. Dunmore and George Critcherson who accompanied the American artist William Bradford on his 1869 expedition of Arctic seascapes. Zaria traveled with her family throughout some of the world’s most faraway landscapes, which were the subject of her mother’s fine art photography. During those trips, Zaria developed an appreciation for the beauty and vastness of the ever-changing sky and sea. Her mother taught her a great deal about light, and the ways it can be captured illuminating a landscape.

Climate-Conscious Message

The majority of Forman’s work is informed by the threat of climate change, and her drawings squarely place the viewer in front of a slow-moving yet unavoidable tension that reflects humankind and nature’s shared predicament. Whether depicting glaciers, bodies of water or storm fronts, her work focuses on the problems we face in terms of water conservation, melting polar ice, and rising sea levels. She explores moments of transition, turbulence and tranquility in the landscape and their impact on the viewer.

Forman’s work focuses on the problems of water conservation, melting polar ice, and rising sea levels

Zaria Forman - Waipi o Valley, Hawaii no.3, 2015 sign
Zaria Forman – Waipi o Valley, Hawaii no.3, 2015

Painting without Brushes!

Traveling to outlying parts of the world, Forman takes photographs and creates sketches, working from these and her memory in her studio in New York City after she returns to the United States. While creating ultra-realistic images, Forman doesn’t use any drawing tools, only her palms, and fingers, to smudge the pastel pigment into the paper. What on first glance look like photographs of pristine, icy waters are actually pastel drawings by the talented artist. She creates exquisite details of icy landscapes and beaches to highlight the effects of global warming on the planet using only her hands, paint, and chalk.

Zaria Forman - paintings nature life animals gallery
Zaria Forman – work in progress, photo © Caters News Agency

Chasing the Light

In August 2012, Zaria led an Arctic expedition up the NW coast of Greenland. Called Chasing the Light, it was the second expedition with the mission to create art inspired by this dramatic geography. The first, in 1869, was led by the American romanticist painter, photographer, and explorer, William Bradford. Zaria’s mother, Rena Bass Forman, had conceived the idea for the voyage but did not live to see it through. During the months of her illness, her dedication to the expedition never wavered and Zaria promised to carry out her final journey. The pieces Zaria subsequently made were inspired by this trip. Documenting climate change, the work addresses the concept of saying goodbye on scales both global and personal. In Greenland, she scattered her mother’s ashes amidst the melting ice.

In August 2012, Zaria led an Arctic expedition up the NW coast of Greenland

Zaria Forman - Greenland no.67 - 2014 (Left) / Greenland no.70 - 2014 (Right) - gallery
Zaria Forman – Greenland no.67, 2014 (Left) / Greenland no.70, 2014 (Right)

Expedition in the Maldives

Continuing to address some of the greatest environmental challenges in her practice, Forman spent September 2013 in the Maldives, the lowest-lying country in the world. She found inspiration there to create a body of work that would shed light on a nation that could be entirely underwater within this century. Two award-winning artists who participated in the Greenland expedition Chasing the Light joined her in this venture. Those were a painter Lisa Lebofsky, and a director, filmmaker, and actress Drew Denny. During the month on the islands, they shared the concept of the project with children on the islands, inviting them to document their homeland as it transforms throughout their lives. The children can use their creativity to continue spreading awareness while inwardly processing the ecological transformations surrounding them.

Zaria Forman - Maldives #10 - 2014 - gallery animals nature
Zaria Forman – Maldives #10, 2014

Set Designs for House of Cards and Giselle

Forman’s work has found its way into popular culture as well, gracing the walls of Claire Underwood’s (Robin Wright) office in Netflix’s TV show House of Cards. Directed by David Fincher and starring Kevin Spacey, TV series House of Cards offers a look behind the scenes at the greed and corruption in American politics. Amongst in the House of Cards, a series of ten drawings Forman created were used as the set design for Giselle, a classic ballet that premiered at the Grand Theater of Geneva, Switzerland, in October 2012. The Swedish choreographer Pontus Lidberg and Zaria Forman collaborated to choose each image and its details. Photographs of the drawings were then enlarged and printed to fit the stage.

Forman’s paintings grace the walls of Claire Underwood’s office in the famous TV show House of Cards

Claire Underwood (Robin Wright) in front of Forman pieces in Claire's office in Netflix TV show sign
Claire Underwood (Robin Wright) in front of Forman’s pieces in Claire’s office in Netflix TV show House of Cards

From Storms to Hawaii

Zaria Forman received her Bachelor of Science in Studio Arts in 2005 from Skidmore College, Saratoga. Since her first series of works in 2004, called Storms, the artist has received a lot of attention in the art world. Her work was included in numerous individual and group shows throughout the United States and beyond. Amongst Storm, Greenland 2006 and 2012, and The Maldives, her series of works include Thompson Lake, made in 2010, Israel, inspired by the coastline of Tel-Aviv, Svalbard, archipelago above the Northern tip of Norway, Nosara, Costa Rica and Giselle, a series she created for the ballet performances. In Spring 2015, Zaria went on a permaculture eco-adventure retreat in Hawaii. Although the trip was intended to be a vacation, she was inspired by the beauty of Hawaii and additionally she drew her latest series titled Hawaii. The talented artist continues to travel the world in a search for the stunning, but endangered locations. She has chosen to depict all these amazing places hoping that her paintings will inspire us to protect and preserve our environment.

Zaria Forman lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.

Featured image: Zaria Forman – portrait, photo by Francois Lebeau, photo credits Puddingstone Post
All images courtesy the artist

YearExhibition TitleMuseum/GallerySolo/Group
2017TBDWinston Wachter Fine Art, SeattleSolo
2016Seattle Art FairSeattleGroup
2016Art on PaperWinston Wachter Fine Art NY, NYGroup
2016Miami ProjectWinston Wachter Fine Art NY & Seattle, Miami Beach, FLGroup
2015Environmental ImpactStauth Memorial Museum, Montezuma, KSSolo
2015Environmental ImpactThe Art Museum, SUNY Potsdam, Potsdam, NYSolo
2015UnknownOpera Gallery, LondonGroup
2015S L I PWinston Wachter Fine Art, NYSolo
2015Environmental ImpactPaul and Lulu Hilliard University Art Museum, the University of Louisiana, LafayetteSolo
2015Environmental ImpactBrookgreen Gardens, Murrells Inlet, SCSolo
2015Vantage PointsArtSpace64, MSK 64th St. Outpatient Treatment Center, NYSolo
2015UnknownMark Murray Gallery, NYGroup
201547th Collectors Show and SaleArkansas Art Center, Little Rock, ARGroup
2015Changing LandscapesRingel Gallery, Purdue University, West Lafayette, INSolo
2015Art on PaperPier 36, NYSolo
2014Ice to IslandWinston Wachter Fine Art, Seattle, WASolo
2014CRB: Contemporary Realism BiennialFort Wayne Museum of Art, IN, Group
2014We are OneLiving Earth Ecological Insitute, Phoenix, AZGroup
2014We are OneLiving Earth Ecological Insitute, Phoenix, AZGroup
2014On the LabradorNorthern Lights Gallery, Belfast, MEGroup
2014WaterwaysHeather Gaudio Fine Art, New Canaan, CTGroup
2014On the LabradorNorthern Lights Gallery, Belfast, MEGroup
2014Space - SquaredWhite Walls Gallery, San Fransisco, CAGroup
2014timeless rhythms: sensing changeCarla Massoni Gallery, Chestertown, MDGroup
2014The Last Brucennial837 Washington Street, NYGroup
2014Winter Group ExhibitMark Murray Gallery, NYGroup
2013Small WorksDedee Shattuck Gallery, Westport, MAGroup
2013Curate NYCElisa Contemporary Art, NYGroup
2013Creatives Rising, A projection on a skyscraper and exhibitionSee.Me Gallery, LIC, New YorkGroup
2013Following the Panther, in conjunction with Arctic VisionsNew Bedford Whaling Museum, New Bedford, MAGroup
2013Various ArtistsImago Galleries, Palm Desert, CAGroup
2013John Zorn's Obsessions CollectiveZebrastraat Art and Cultural CenterGhent, BelgiumGroup
2013Zaria Forman, Huguette May & Sandra AllenDeeDee Shattuck Gallery, Westport, MAGroup
2013Arctic Visions: Away Then Floats the Ice-IslandNew Bedford Whaling Museum, New Bedford, MAGroup
2013Spring HighlightsWinston Wachter, Seattle, WAGroup
2012GiselleWinston Wachter Fine Art, New York, NYGroup
2012Earth, Sky and in BetweenEdward Hopper House, Nyack, NYGroup
2012Group Summer ShowSkidmore Contemporary Art, Santa Monica, CAGroup
2012Group Summer ShowVictorine Contemporary Art, Newport, RIGroup
2012Flaura and FaunaGay Head Gallery, Aquinnah, MAGroup
2012Brucennial 2012The Bruce High Quality Foundation in collaboration with Vito Schnabel, New York, NYGroup
2011Obsessions: Cavin Morris Gallery in colaboration with John ZornCavin Morris Gallery, New York, NYGroup
2011AAF: The Affordable Art FairNew York, NY, Group
2011Art Auction to Benefit JapanVON Bar, New York, NYGroup
2011Master Drawings New YorkMark Murray Gallery, New York, NYGroup
2010Real: Realism in Diverse MediaImago Galleries, Palm Desert, CAGroup
2010Gallery ArtistsDFN Gallery, New York, NYGroup
2010Juried Alumni ExhibitionFrances Young Tang Teaching Museum, Saratoga Springs, NYGroup
2010The Brucennial 2010: MiseducationThe Bruce High Quality Foundation in collaboration with Vito Schnabel, New York, NYGroup
2010Looks Good on PaperDFN Gallery, New York, NYGroup
2010Natural VisionsWinston Wachter Fine Art, Seattle, WAGroup
2010New LandscapesDFN Gallery, New York, NYGroup
2009The Art of SeeingAllen Sheppard Gallery, NYGroup
2009Top to Bottom, A Hudson River Arts Map InstallationEdward Hopper House, Nyack, NYGroup
2009EnlightenmentRockefeller Parks Preserve Art Gallery, Sleepy Hollow, NYGroup
2009Spring GroupAllen Sheppard Gallery, NYGroup
2009Selected Works by Gallery ArtistsDavid Floria Gallery, AspenGroup
2009Abstract/NatureDFN Gallery, NYGroup
2009Designer's Show and SaleThe Designer Show House on the Hudson, Grandview, NYGroup
2008Arctic Light: Recent DrawingsAllen Sheppard Gallery, NYSolo
2008Polar Light: Greenland, Zaria Forman and Rena Bass FormanLook North Inuit Art Gallery, Brooklyn, NYGroup
2008Summer Group ExhibitionThe David Floria Gallery, Aspen, COGroup
2008Summer Group ShowAllen Sheppard Gallery, NYGroup
2008Light EntanglementsBlue Hill Art and Cultural Center, Pearl River, NYGroup
2008Tranceformation, Benefit Show and AuctionList Art Center, Brown University, RIGroup
2008Spring Group ShowDavid Floria Gallery, Aspen, COGroup
2008Artists For L.W.A.L.A., Auction EventGallery Bar, NYGroup
2008Some Wonderful Things Part IIAllyn Gallup Contemporary Art, Sarasota, FLGroup
2008Zaria Forman and Catherine MinneryThe Mikhail Zakin Gallery, Demarest, NJGroup
2008SolsticeThe David Floria Gallery, Aspen, COGroup
2008Palm Beach 3DFN Gallery, Palm Beach Art Fair, Palm Beach, FLGroup
2008Works on PaperDFN Gallery, NYGroup
2008Winter Group ShowRARE Gallery, Jackson Hole, WYGroup
2007Anderson Ranch Annual Arts AuctionAnderson Ranch Arts Center, Snowmass Village, COGroup
2007Collectors Show and SaleArkansas Art Center, Little Rock, AKGroup
2007Summer Group ShowCarla Massoni Gallery, Chestertown, MDGroup
2007Summer GroupAllen Sheppard Gallery, NYGroup
2007It’s OutstideAllyn Gallup Contemporary Art, SarasotaGroup
2007Summer Group ExhibitionRARE Gallery, Jackson Hole, WYGroup
2007Group ExhibitionProject A Gallery, Nashville, TN, NYGroup
2007Group ExhibitionAllen Sheppard Gallery, NYGroup
2006Clearly NebulousAllen Sheppard Gallery, NYSolo
2006Drawings by Zaria FormanBunburry’s Art Gallery, Piermont, NYSolo
2006The Next GenerationCarla Massoni Gallery, Chestertown, MDGroup
2006Collectors Show and SaleArkansas Art Center, Little Rock, ARGroup
2006Seven: Degrees of RelativityRockland Center for the Arts, S. Nyack, NYGroup
2005Zaria FormanCase Gallery, Saratoga Springs, NYSolo