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Alumni Spotlight: ZACHARY LANK

Recently, Charis Carmichael Braun (2008) interviewed AANYAA's new (as of 2021) treasurer, Zachary Lank (2018) to ask him a few questions:

What are you currently working on?

I’m putting together a brand new body of work after having finished and exhibited a series this September (2021). I would say I’m still in the research stage of the project, but that’s only half true - what usually happens is I’ll make a piece, an image that’s really stuck with me through iterations in sketches and studies. From there, I can use that to orient myself on where to go next, and that’s when I really start digging around through source material.

Right now I’m about finished with the first piece of this foray into new material, and I’m drawing from history books and memoirs to fashion magazines and style forums. It’s exciting stuff, though I’m almost superstitious about putting it too clearly into words too early, at least in public.

What was your most recent big thing?

That show I was talking about above, I would say. I co-curated and exhibited a booth (#1055, "Two Flights of a Crossbow") for SPRING/BREAK’s 2021 show with fellow alumni Tim Buckley and Atalanta Xanthe Arden-Miller.

The overarching theme for the art fair was the medieval inflected “HEARSAY/HERESY”, and that theme really just seemed tailor-made for the work we’d been producing through 2020. The show was a ton of fun and a lot of work, but I think we’d do it all again in a heartbeat.

Through the experience I realized I really loved curating and writing up the statements and all, and putting together a collaborative effort like that (which previously would not have been in my wheelhouse) was very rewarding. Working with an ace team like those two gives you much less to worry over as well, which can’t be overlooked.

What do you find challenging about your work?

I have a tendency to try and out-think my best instincts, to think my way to some more perfect solution to the perceived weaknesses of my work. It’s a two way street, of course. Reflection and the ability to step back and assess what it is your work is actually doing is essential, but it’s a mistake to put it out there in front leading the horses, as it were.

I think what helps me is a sort of personal theory of images I have. The image doesn’t mean things in the same way words do; its semiotics relate to language, but they precede it. I guess I trust that somewhere in that precedence there’s a kind of internal justification for images, and that’s what lets me paint when I feel like it might be pointless otherwise. Was that too heavy?

What do you find rewarding?

Doing a thing well and rightly and being able to stand back and bask in the accomplishment for a moment. Like when you’ve really dug in and cleaned your house and everything’s ship shape and you can lay back and take a nap. More specifically in my practice, I’d say any day I get to paint is rewarding, and I’m not being trite here. I’m not saying every day I get to paint I am happy and I am pleased with the outcome. But really, there’s nothing else I want to do more most of the time, and we wouldn't do the crazy things we do to allow ourselves to keep painting if that weren’t so. So it’s a reward even if you’re having a rough go of it, and that’s arguably the best kind.

What’s on the horizon for you?

Plenty of painting! I’ve got bold plans for myself for this next round of work, and I don’t plan to lose my head of steam. I’d certainly like to put together some more shows in the future. I’m poking around looking for possible venues and collaborators. Taking notes on what I think could make interesting shows, or artists who would converse well together. That sort of thing!

Zachary Lank

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