This week’s cover features a stunning piece by East Hampton artist/author/designer of spiritual couture Amy Zerner. Here she discusses creating “The Empress,” her upcoming exhibition at MM Fine Art, and more.
A Conversation with Amy Zerner
What inspired you to create “The Empress,” and what themes did you set out to explore with this piece?
“The Empress” was a special piece I made for one of my longtime collectors, Torie Gibralter. Personal commissions have always propelled me into new creative territory. Torie requested reds, greens, yellows, and described a feeling that she wanted the piece to evoke.
“The Empress” is a fertile Earth Mother showering us with her bounty. She sits in her abundant, well-tended garden, which grounds and connects her to the riches of nature and a cornucopia of beauty. Her nurturing femininity also helps us to give birth to creative ideas. She is celebrative, voluptuous, bounteous and opulent. She gives freely, unconditionally, to all who approach her, to whatever extent they are able to receive, without judgment and with infinite love.
In what season was “The Empress” created, and in what ways, if any, do your art inspirations shift with the changing of seasons?
I worked on this tapestry in the springtime, so it really reflects that abundant energy of this time of year. As an astrologer and an instinctual artist, I delight in tuning in to and interpreting the magical aspects of our cycles and seasons.
What did the creation of this piece entail, and what is your favorite aspect of the finished piece?
My tapestries are composed of mystical dreamscapes, sacred spaces, temples and grottos for spirits and goddesses, with rich patches of embroidery, printed trees, leaves, flowers, goddesses, birds, butterflies — stitched and appliquéd, layer on layer. I make a pile of raw materials: upcycled fabrics, pigments, beads, trims, vintage embellishments. Then I start creating a work of art — mixing, matching, cutting, piecing, painting, collaging, ironing, arranging. It is an alchemical process.
I gave this Empress a slight Mona Lisa-type smile. The cherub and the bird are bringing her a garland, symbolizing help and cooperation between the spirit world, the animal world and the plant world. The crown upon her head ties her to the heavens. I like that she is fully herself and secure in her peaceful power.
How does “The Empress” speak to the exhibition theme of the upcoming Reclaimed: The Oracles & Archetypes of Amy Zerner at MM Fine Art?
It dovetails into much of the other work in the show that features the theme of Divine Feminine in my imagery, which I’ve been exploring since the 1970s. I like my art to serve as an affirmation of our interconnectedness, of balance, synchronicity, harmony, growth, freedom and protection.
My studio is floor-to-ceiling bins and boxes of materials that I have collected for 40 years from local flea markets and thrift shops. Back then you could find antique ribbons and laces from the 1800s, dresses from the ’30s and ’40s, and great fabrics from the ’50s and ’60s. Many of the elements of my work have been made by the loving hands of women possessed with incredible skills that are now almost forgotten — hand-made vintage laces, adornments, appliqués.
I like to think I give new life to many taken-for-granted examples of “woman’s work” and, by doing so, I honor and celebrate the women who had designed and made them.
I transform these treasures and give them new life, intuitively assembling and combining them with care and intention.
Would you like to share any closing thoughts or additional information?
Some of the work in this exhibit is from my series of bestselling oracles and tarot decks created over many years, in collaboration with my husband Monte Farber. We will be celebrating our newest creations — The Wild Goddess Oracle, The Intuition Oracle, The Creativity Oracle, The Art Of Affirmations, The Zerner/Farber Tarot and Enchanted Worlds — with a book signing, demonstration and art talk in the gallery on Saturday, April 15 from 6–8 p.m., and with an artist’s reception on Saturday, April 22 from 6–8 p.m. at MM Fine Art, 4 North Main Street in Southampton. The show is on view through April 30.
We will also be filming a segment at the gallery for our upcoming documentary Amy & Monte: A Legacy of Love & Creativity, which is being produced by AMMO Entertainment.