Rebecca Juliette Interviews Sanzi Kermes
Artists Work is a BmoreArt interview series that explores the work that artists do to make a living while they work on their ‘real work’ – their art.
Sanzi Kermes is an interdisciplinary artist working in a mix of media including paper, wood, and fabric. Primarily a self-taught, Sanzi holds a Masters of Contemporary Fine Art Practice from Leeds Metropolitan University in Leeds, United Kingdom. Her work is conceptually based unfolding the processes and ideas behind the construct of the individual piece.
A self-proclaimed lover of Scrabble, Sanzi documents the games she has played, then creates works that highlight the pattern and text formulated during each game. Sanzi’s love of language, letters, numbers, and visual arts is consistent throughout her work incorporating screen prints, letterpress printing, and senryu. Senryu is a Japanese form of short poetry akin to haiku, which Sanzi features throughout her work.
Currently, residing in Baltimore, Maryland, Sanzi is a wife, mother, and professional cartographer in corporate America. She is a bi-national American with heritage on her paternal side from Bohemia and Italy on her maternal lineage. Her work has been exhibited at Artscape, Maryland Art Place, Jordan Faye Contemporary, and University of Maryland.
Name: Sanzi Kermes
Description of Art You Make:
Interdisciplinary. An avid Scrabble player, I document the games I’ve played, and create works that show the pattern left at end of play. I incorporate text using words played during the game, writing senryu (a Japanese form of poetry akin to haiku).
I screen print, letterpress print, and wood block print onto various media, including wood, paper, and most recently, fabric.
Mom. Artist. Live-in Landlord.
I developed a creative solution to my dilemma about how to have time to focus on making work. When I did have full time jobs, I had no energy left at the end of the day to make art. I have a big house and I rent rooms (live-in landlord). I also rent out my studio space from time to time as a shared space – always with the caveat that the person understands the space is a working artist studio.
Hours per week at work:
Mom, full time.
Artist, fluctuates and is dependent on school schedule, generally 20-40 hours/week.
Live-in Landlord, as needed.
Hours per week in studio: 20-40.
Duties or tasks performed at day job:
I maintain my house in a condition that allows me to rotate tenants regularly. Mom duties – you want this list? My daughter is 11 years old and in 5th grade. I go to every school event, every recital, and help her to be a kid. Playing is critical and we get to do that. I teach her how to ride a bike (a passion of mine). She loves to sing and play piano so there are extra lessons for that. You know – mom, taxi driver, coach, laundress, etc.
Best thing about your day job:
“You’re the best mom in the world”. She says it almost every day.
How does your day job enhance or detract from your studio practice?
When my daughter was younger and needed more hands on supervision, I had little time to spare in the studio. I had to make work that was quick and easy in order to satisfy my need to create. Now that she is older, she helps me. She modeled some clothes for my most recent show; she has a keen critical ability to look at something and offer feedback, and she loves to help.
Favorite job ever:
Mom. Seriously. Before I dedicated myself to work as an artist, I would have to say the best gig was as a reader for students studying to become court reporters. I had to read out loud at specific cadences (60 wpm (words per minute), up to 340 wpm) so they could practice. I read from real court documents. Some were fairly amusing.
Job you couldn’t wait to leave:
The one with a big engineering firm, once I got a different section chief.
Is it your goal to become a full-time artist? Why or why not?
It always was and I now am. I’ve made big sacrifices to do it. (Regular vacations? Forget it. Life of poverty? No, not quite, but money is always a concern). Would I trade it? Not for a minute.
What advice do you have for young artists just out of school, in terms of balancing your work and studio practice?
I’ll steal this from Chuck Close – “Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us show up and get to work.”
And this from Brice Marden, “What questions are you asking yourself? What are you trying to learn from your work?”
And, from me, don’t get attached to the product. Be attached to the process. Commit yourself to the path of discovery.
What’s coming up next for you as an artist? What projects are you working on or looking forward to?
I just installed my largest installation to date at the Glenview Mansion Art Gallery in Rockville, Maryland. I like to respond to the space where my work will live. In this case, the gallery assigned to me is next to Mrs Lyon’s dressing room. I screen printed on costumes obtained from Center Stage with the rich graphic and text derived from my Scrabble documentation process. Likewise I printed on antique sewing patterns that reflect the couture of the eras during which the mansion was lived in. There are several “books” on paper which has been folded in several types of origami folds. I created an atmosphere in the gallery space that reflects the history while evoking a contemporary visual interpretation based on my own search between visual art and language.
Find Sanzi around town:
Sanzi Kermes | Color8art | Douglas Wolters
Sunday September 11, 1:30-3:30
Glenview Mansion Art Gallery
111 Maryland Ave. Rockville, MD 20850
School 33 Open Studio Tour
October 8 & 9, Saturday/Sunday, 10am-6pm
921 N Calvert St. Baltimore 21202
As a guest artist in the studio of
Scott Ponemone. Other artists to be announced.
September 18 – November 13
Lisa Dillin, guest curator
Crafted Hair Studio
3526 Chestnut Avenue
Baltimore, Md 21211
Connect with Sanzi online: