This is the thirty-first in a series of interviews with each of the Sondheim Award Semifinalists. Finalists have been announced, and will be on exhibit at the Walters Art Museum June 21 to August 17; those not selected as finalists with be exhibited at the Decker, Meyerhoff and Pinkard Galleries at MICA  July 17 to August 3, 2014.

Name: John Zimmerman
Age: 27
Current Location: Waverly- Baltimore, MD
Hometown: Waldorf, MD
School: University of MD, Baltimore County


What is your day job? How do you manage balancing work with studio time with your life?
I am currently a dog walker as well as a bartender. I try to string together both jobs and work as many hours as a can for a few days, and then have off for a couple days afterwards to decompress and think about my art. On a good day dog walking can serve as both work and time to contemplate life, as well as allow me to take photographs.

How would you describe your work, and your studio practice? I mainly work in photography. For me, the power of photography lies in its ability to flatten real world objects. The viewer interprets the image as a three dimensional space, but the composition is intrinsically rooted in the flat dimension. I try to compose my images, whether they are portraits or landscapes, as a minimal spatial study. Lately I have been working on sculptures and paintings that similarly explore these flattened dimensions.


What part of artmaking to you like or enjoy the most? The least? Editing photographs can be tedious, but at this point I embrace the meditative qualities of it.

What research do you do for your art practice? Reading a lot helps, as well as taking in and processing the mass of imagery that bombards us everyday.

Do you ever get in creative dry spells, and if so, how do you get out of them? Of course. Whenever I do I find its best to let it run its natural course. I go exercise, and enjoy my life for a few days, or a week, or a month. Eventually a good idea will come my way, and it won’t have the appearance of being forced.

How do you challenge yourself in your work? I think the poster in the office of our guidance counselor’s was on to something when it read “push yourself” or “give it your all” or whatever. I have post-its around that egg me on. Again, like I said before, you don’t want to force yourself to be creative. That said we all need motivation, and post-its criticizing me seem to work. I also find it is good practice to be as meticulous and overly critical of a final product.


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