Artist Interview Series: Jennifer Zizman and the artist’s journey

By Nathan Durec



Jennifer Zizman situates her art based on journeys. It is part of her passion for lifelong learning, whether learning about herself or the world around her.


There is a journey in how she came to do the art she does not. There is a journey in her exploration of tools, techniques, and materials. There is the journey she gets to appreciate in how others experience her art.

“The artist, they do evolve. And they do change. And there’s this journey, but there’s something that somehow remains the same. And I think that I have a real…interest in life in terms of understanding more of the mysterious, deeper parts of life,” Jennifer says. And part of this evolution of the artist for Jennifer was in finding the style that spoke to her most authentically.


Beginning at the University of Victoria, she received her Bachelor of Fine Arts, focusing on figurative representational work and abstract. But even then, she knew where her choice lay. “I think in my heart, I’ve always wanted to completely dedicate myself to abstract,” she says.


After school, she lived in Whistler and painted landscapes. Jennifer says nature is a strong influence in her work, along with glamour and energy. Landscape painting allowed her to tap into some of these influences, but it was not enough.


“I got to the point where, if I was going to become really advanced in my art, I needed to sort of choose what was most authentically my way of expressing myself as an artist,” Jennifer says. “And I felt like it took me many years to get to this point, but I felt like abstract art was really to me what could say the most and could express things most deeply for me as an artist. And so, I’ve been working just abstract probably for around four years.”


And that was a scary realization. Jennifer acknowledges that abstract often requires work on the part of the viewer to interpret meaning and intention. But while her figurative or landscape work may be commercially appealing, it is abstract where her voice resides.


“I finally came to the point that as an artist, I think this is a very important point to get to…that I know that this is most genuine and I’m going to stick behind it with integrity and I know this is what I’m supposed to be doing. And the path will unfold. The art will guide me. Those people who are meant to be touched by this work and will be drawn into this work, it will happen."


She calls abstract mysterious, fascinating and exciting. It also represents a new journey for her, one where the unexpected is allowed to flourish.


“I have this thing that I’ve learned, which is that if I have an idea come to my mind, like for example the idea with glitter, and the idea just arises in my creative mind, I think, “oh, I wonder what it would be like if…’ Typically, my first response would be, ‘Don’t do that. It’s going to ruin the painting. Just keep to what you know works.’ And as soon as I get that voice saying don’t try that, keep to what you know in being secure, I know I have to override that in my mind. And I have to go on that journey, see where it goes.”


And when it comes to her audience, Jennifer says they become a part of that journey. They may see what it is she is revealing, or they may bring something entirely new to the experience.


“They get it so much more than I would have thought,” Jennifer says. “People really take the time to stand there and…feel what they feel and kind of try to put it into words, but allow it to be a little vague, a little bit mysterious too. And I would say there’s a bit of both. People bring a lot of their own interpretations to the work, and that is actually a very big role of the work. It’s a very big part of the work. I like to leave it open in that way. But then I also hear people looking at the work and feeling a lot of the things in the work that I do as well.”


Currently, you can see Jennifer’s work as part of the Palm Beach Art Collection, an online exhibition. It can be found at https://www.artsy.net/artist/jennifer-zizman.