Thursday, May 28, 2015

Art City Asks: William Zuback

Art City Asks is a feature of JS Online. My interview with Bill Zuback was posted there on May 27:

Amanda, from the Dress Series
Who are you? How do you feel about yourself? How do you present yourself to the world around you? These and other fundamental, sometimes uncomfortable, often complex, questions of identity drive much of Milwaukee photographer William Zuback's creative output. Zuback may be motivated by newsworthy social issues such as bullying, discrimination and stereotyping. He might as easily find inspiration in a poem or other literary sources.

Like identity, which can be a thick stew of psychological, social, emotional and experiential ingredients, it is hard to categorize Zuback's photography. The work ranges from straightforward, almost classical nude figure studies to bizarrely surreal still-life confections.

Life on the Margin, from a series called “shutters/deadends/lens/pens”
Two things do unify a prodigious and diverse artistic practice. In a field gone digital and overwhelmingly done in color, Zuback chooses traditional studio processes and a time-honored palette of black and white tonalities. And although the force of his subjects' personalities can be powerful, his metaphors are subtly evocative, his compositions nearly always carefully and overtly constructed.

We met at the secluded lot in West Allis where Zuback lives and works. He ushered me into the windowless garage that serves as his studio. I was invited to sit in an old cushioned armchair while he sat on a folding chair. The dimly lighted space was cluttered with a wide variety of objects, including many dolls and manikins in various states of dress and dismemberment. Bill's calm, warm demeanor made it all feel inviting.

--> Jane Doe, from the Identity Series The artist's disarming serenity might explain how he attracts subjects and convinces them to reveal themselves physically and emotionally to his probing camera. After graduating from well-regarded Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara, California, Zuback returned to his West Allis roots where he and his wife raised two now-adult children. He supports his personal practice as the supervisor of the photography studio at Kalmbach Publishing Co.

Zuback is represented by the Frank Juarez Gallery in Sheboygan. His work has been shown at a variety of local venues including the Wustum Museum, the Museum of Wisconsin Art, and the Charles Allis Museum.

Ashley, from the Dress Series
"The Dress Series," Zuback's current body of work, was inspired by a poem called "A Dress of Fire" by Dahlia Ravikovitch. The series will be the subject of a solo exhibition at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside in September. These images continue his fascination with identity and explore the psychological and social implications of feminine formal attire.

To read Bill's thoughtful responses to the interview questions go to Art City Asks.

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