“A medium of love that confers dignity upon existence…”

Paul Zimmerman in conversation with Aliza Thomas


Paul Zimmerman: Your work is influenced by shamanism. Where does this come from?

Aliza Thomas: Shamanism is part of my being and nowadays helps me to understand why my life path is the way it was and is. It took me a long time to accept this because I didn’t the see connection between Shamanism and the art and artist I wanted to be. Even though ,using that side of my being never stopped. And I continue to use it, to help children and adults. I don’t use it in my art,” it is my art.!” And it is the way I use my art and live my life by, helping children and adults to solve their difficulties and create stories.

PZ: Why do you use paper as a medium?

AT: I majored in printmaking and worked in a multi- dimensional way with that medium and used strong thick paper which I imported from France. When the supply stopped because of the Yom Kippur war I decided to make my own paper. From there on It developed into papermaking in the desert, I researched the history of Islamic papermaking which gave me lots of insight in the medium. Other paper researchers like for example Douglas Morse Howell showed me a more modern approach of the technique. As a medium it is light and convenient to work with. There is a Chinese saying: “life is fragile like paper” (it can keep for centuries and destroyed in a second.)

PZ: What is the most challenging part in your art making?

AT: Solving technical problems to execute certain pieces, adapting myself to the current situation which with the moving around in the world wasn’t and isn’t always easy

PZ: How do you define yourself as an artist?

AT: I define myself as an artist with an umbrella under which I develop different activities like making paper, or creating the different figures or stimulating people to be creative. Teach Qigong. The helping and the healing are part of my creative process just like creating the figures or paintings.

 PZ: Which artists are you most influenced by?

AT: Influencing that word in your question creates a special meaning, because some artists works I loved to look at while others really inspired me. But they were all important to me. As a child I loved Wassily Kandinsky, growing up it became Alberto Giacometti, Leonardo da Vinci, as a student: Pablo Picasso, Amedeo Modigliani, Joan Miro, and Paul Klee. Musea were like my second home.

PZ: What are you working on now?

AT: As we speak I am moving again, but only the studio, my first step will be trying to make my paper objects with as little water as possible. This change also encourages me to change my way of work. Subject wise I work by different subjects, to clarify this my key “words” can be used:

The Key to growth,

A shift in perspective,

Secret of sound,

Dance in the universe

Knowing the surface

A process of change

Interwoven by relations,

Threads of life,

Trees singing in the air

PZ: Does this pandemic impact your work and sensibility?

AT: The pandemic has a special impact on my work as an artist as well as on my work as a Qigong and Taiji teacher. The pandemic demands more creativity and positivity, and helping people to stay healthy it changed my art in a certain way although not dramatically. It is often bolder! The power of art, a medium of love that confers dignity upon existence.


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