Arts & Entertainment
pieces of mixed
Despite being legally blind, Ann Arbor Art Fairs
artist Rachel Zamek has an artist's eye.
Special to the Jewish News
achel Zamek's collages reveal much about
her inner feelings, but they don't hint there's
a condition that might be expected to inter-
fere with her work. Zamek, who will have a booth at
this summer's Ann Arbor Art Fairs, is legally blind
and plies her talents with a limited visual field.
Zamek joins some 1,200 artists whose works will be
shown Wednesday-Saturday, July 20-23, in four seg-
ments: the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair, Ann Arbor
South University Art Fair, State Street Area Art Fair
and Ann Arbor Summer Art Fair. There also will be
street corner entertainment, foods from around the
world, artists' demonstrations and children's activities.
"I will have about 40 pieces of mixed media, three-
dimensional work," says Zamek, 41, who arranges her
booth to resemble a gallery. 'A lot of my pieces are nar-
rative, and they range from the serious to the joyous."
Zamek, who grew up in Waterford and now makes
her home in Orlando, Fla., uses boxes as frames for
her larger projects, which include painted segments,
found objects, photographs and clippings. She punc-
mates the main section with artistic touches on the
borders. Very small projects are framed by thimbles.
Emaciating Grace, which presents a woman covered
with disturbing words clipped from newspapers and
includes soldier images on the frame, suggests that sad
communications starve the soul. We're Not Alone
shows a boy in the foreground with a group of people
behind him to advance the idea that all of humankind
is connected. Egghead features a smart-looking person
with mathematical equations and three-dimensional
eggs as well as blueprints toward the outside.
On The Circuit
"My ideas come from objects and a journal I write,"
says Zamek, who travels the country to appear at art
fairs and is driven by her boyfriend, Matthew
Cornell, a painter who also works the fair circuit. "I
layer the pieces for emotional and visual depth."
Zamek always liked working with art, getting into
trouble by drawing on the walls in her family home.
Later, she found ways to use her mother's fabrics and
yarns, bought for sewing quilts and knitting.
Although she studied art at Saginaw Valley State
University after graduating from Waterford
Township High School, Zamek dropped out to work
with agencies serving people with disabilities. Born
with an optic nerve disorder, she wasn't diagnosed
until about 10 years ago. Before that, she was
thought to have a learning disability.
The artist returned to college at 32 and earned a
bachelor's degree in art from Western Michigan
University. She received her master's degree in fine
arts from the University of Michigan, where she was
the first legally blind visual artist to reach that level.
"My work is about the representation of abstract
ideas within a visual form," Zamek says. "By com-
bining objects, imagery and text, I aim to evoke our
natural tendency to create narratives and dip into a
Zamek, who attended Temple Beth Jacob in
Pontiac and whose brother, Stanton, is a rabbi in
Baton Rouge, has done some work with Jewish
themes. Riga presents a story about a woman who
left Latvia to attend the World's Fair in America and
became the only survivor in her family. The central
image is surrounded by yellow triangles on the frame
to remind viewers of the identification markers the
Nazis forced people to wear.
Returning To Ann Arbor
This will be Zamek's third year at the Ann Arbor
Street Art Fair. Although not represented by
Michigan galleries, she does have projects in
Alabama, Maine and Florida spaces.
"I like the fairs because I get to know the people
who buy my work," Zamek explains. "I love what I
do and find it exciting to meet people who find the
work also resonates with them."
There are many other Jewish artists with booths in
Ann Arbor, where some have been featured for many
Among the Jewish artists at the Ann Arbor South
University Art Fair are Ernest Abel of West Bloom-
field (photography), Yoram Gal of Israel (painting)
and Todd Kurtzman of Oregon (sculpture).
The State Street Area Art Fair showcases Marcy
Feldman of Southfield (jewelry) and Rebecca
Levenson of Ann Arbor (clothing).
Jewish artists in the Ann Arbor Summer Art Fair
include Donna Burstein of Florida (paintings), Shari
Cohen of Farmington Hills (precious jewelry),
Nancy Finesilver of Ohio (functional clay), David
Levy of California (functional wood), Lynn Marcus
of Ohio (contemporary precious jewelry) and Kay
Yourist of Ann Arbor (functional clay).
The Ann Arbor Art Fairs invite visitors
Wednesday-Saturday, July 20-23, in four sec-
tions of the city. The Ann Arbor Street Art Fair
is located on the streets surrounding the Burton
Carillon Tower. The Ann Arbor South
University Art Fair has expanded to the entire
South University area. The State Street Area Art
Fair is in the center of the city. The Ann Arbor
Summer Art Fair has two locations, Main Street
and State Street. Hours are 10 a.m.-9 p.m.
Wednesday-Friday and 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday.
(800) 888-9487 or www.annarbor.org .
Rachel Zamek: (top to bottom)