Artist Interview: Zoetica Ebb

Zoetica Ebb with her art

Blue haired artist/photographer/model/stylist/Coilhouse impressaria/ late night cupcake sharer Zoetica Ebb has alot on her plate.  I get to interrogate her about  Russia, curation vs. creation, and what the girls in her paintings are really thinking.

Molly Crabapple: You work in a variety of creative disciplines – photography, painting, even styling and fashion, yet present a cohesive vision.  What inspires you to work in different media?

Zoetica Ebb: Life is short and I like flexing all my creative muscles. Sadly, for now that’s impossible because of physical constraints. I’ll have you know that, if I had clones who shared my consciousness, I’d also be an astronaut, a dominatrix, a fashion designer, an experimental filmmaker, a political journalist, a rock star, a mountain chihuahua farmer, a full-time cabaret dancer* slash circus performer, a professional traveler, and a monk. Among others.

Wealthy benefactors are encouraged to donate to my cloning fund.

*I danced as a kid and was a cabaret dancer for about a year once, actually, but it was the first of my hobbies to go when we started doing Coilhouse.

Molly Crabapple: What’s the relationship between your work on Coilhouse, the magazine your co-founded, and your personal art?  Do creation and curation nourish each-other?

Zoetica Ebb: Oh, absolutely! For starters, how can one not get inspired when encountering so many viciously brilliant beings on a daily basis? In creating the blog and magazine, I, along with my co-conspirators Meredith Yayanos and Nadya Lev, hoped to ignite our readers’ brains, to bring them that giddy excitement we all feel when happening across a new discovery. In striving to do this we discover so much ourselves. There’s always more to study and admire out there, as we keep finding every day trough blog discussions, submissions and conversations with friends we make through Coilhouse.

On a personal level, there hasn’t been a single issue of the magazine that hasn’t lit yet another fire under my ass to keep pushing my work, no matter how inundated I might get at times. So yes, curation brings creation – whether that means to continue painting, helping build a community of like minds, inspiring our readers to create, or making a magazine my partners and I are proud of. Something new is always born from this process.

Molly Crabapple: How has your Russian heritage influenced your work?

Zoetica Ebb: Russia has an incredibly rich, albeit occasionally selective, art history. When I was growing up in Moscow, my parents took me to museums, to puppet shows and to plays. Our apartment overflowed with modern and classic art books*, which I devoured cover to cover every chance I got. Despite the bleak economic times and my family’s very average income, they truly valued the arts and I will always be grateful for their efforts to keep me cultured.  By seven, I was in love with Modigilani, Dix, Dali, Kustodiev, Leonardo, and so many more. You could say I was artistically-promiscuous at a very young age.

*My parents also had some dirty French comics stashed on the very top shelf of the library. Those were very inspiring, too.

Though my family is comprised of atheists, my mother has always been an art lover and took me to churches the same way she took me to museums; to further my early art education. There is something uniquely gloomy about Russian Orthodox icons, with their limited, predominantly black palette and exaggerated features. The painted saints’ sharp features, large, pensive eyes and elongated fingers have crept into my work since the beginning. Communism had left no room for mysticism in the eighties and so the dim, candle-lit temple environment and menacing, black-clad priests stirred my eager imagination. I was enamored with the idea of magic and thought these temples were doors, no, lobbies, of other worlds.

The idea of other worlds and the infinite potential of the universe were big themes for me growing up. My grandfather, my favorite male role model, was a physicist. A true scientist, he, seeing my fascination with all things fantastical and wanting to gently shift me away from spirituality, taught me about space, rockets, nebulas and black holes. I decided I wanted to be a cosmonaut. Around the same time, Russia became obsessed with UFOs and extraterrestrials, which played right into my already-rampant escapism.

And of course there are the beautifully bitter authors, musicians, and winters,  but, if I keep going, this answer will usurp the rest of the interview and we simply cannot have that. In short, my Russian heritage is largely responsible for many of the themes I visit in my work.

Molly Crabapple: Kiki de Montparnasse or Lee Miller?

Zoetica Ebb: This is a trick question and I’ll probably spend the next year thinking about it. They’re both smart, gorgeous, multidisciplinary influential characters – how can I choose? If I must pick one, I say Lee, Lee, Lee – for being a human locomotive, for not being afraid to go from being a model to photographer to muse to war correspondent to cook. For doing her thing to the very end.

But Kiki, too, because of her unbridled enthusiasm and because she probably died happy which I find infinitely admirable.

Molly Crabapple: What are the vixens in your paintings thinking?

Zoetica Ebb: Of course it depends on the paintings and I wouldn’t want to overstep my boundaries. You know how they get, just a few years old and already cracking wise, full of ideas, zero regard for their creator. Still, I know best and say that some are despicably preoccupied with soft, warm, sticky things, while others are dreaming about interdimentional [or, at the very least, intergalactic] adventure.

Just like me.

See more of Zoetica Ebb’s work at



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#2 michelle welch-rivera on 12.28.09 at 7:18 pm

you’re both so lovely. I really enjoyed this interview.

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