Published 3/06/2023

#afewquestions: Caroline Zurmely.

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T293: In your works you make use of unconventional materials, including nail polish. How do you describe this choice as an artist? And where does it come from?

CZ: The idea of nail polish came from wanting to work with enamel paint, but I felt like there was such a limited array of colors in enamel. At the time I was painting still lifes of toiletries and making work out of the texture of towels which depicted candid celebrity images. There was this weird bathroom theme going on with the bottles, towels and essentially magazine imagery. Nail polish came to mind and it felt like a perfect thematic fit.

There’s a learning curve when you make work with unconventional materials. It always keeps you on your toes and engaged. I can let go of this idea of perfection when I paint with nail polish because I am using it in a way in which it isn’t intended.

T293: Your nail polish enamel relief paintings are inspired by tabloid photography. Can you tell us more about this insight, and how it informs your creative and artistic production?

CZ: When I was working with towels there was only so much detail I could achieve using the fibers. I knew I needed to pair down and simplify an image to make it work. I started looking for easily recognizable imagery. It helped for the image depicted to be something familiar because I was essentially abstracting it. I naturally gravitated towards tabloid photography and that’s something I have carried over to the nail polish works. There’s a guilty pleasure to it all that I enjoy and the hunt is so fun.

T293: Your works have been described as both visually stunning and thought-provoking. Which themes do you like to explore and present through your pieces?

CZ: I would say familiarity, nostalgia and obsession.

T293: How do you think your work relates on the impact of social media on beauty products and vice-versa?

CZ: I guess like social media my work is just a snippet of a moment. One that is sometimes candid, but ultimately staged and thought out. The work photographs nicely, but it’s different in person. It can be a little grotesque up close. The polish can be bumpy and there are bubbles sometimes. There are multiple experiences when viewing the same work. There’s more than meets the eye. Kind of similar to how we all portray ourselves online.

T293: Is there any specific message or meaning that you would like to express and share with your public through this research and series of works?

CZ: I definitely want to spark curiosity or a memory. Maybe a past experience or interaction the viewer had with the subject matter. I think I have a guilty pleasure relationship with my work and maybe that’s a feeling I can pass along to others.