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“The wood has a story and I have a story and we work together to bring it to reality.” This quote comes from 2013 Creative Workforce Fellow, Gadi Zamir. Gadi Zamir’s medium is wood and he creates works of art by burning it. He does this using a blowtorch, adding color using fabric dyes and oil. “Knowing where to emphasize the grain with the blow torch helps you create the imagery,” says Zamir.
Born and raised in Jerusalem, Zamir grew up making art. One of his first projects as a teenager was a skull with a hand coming out of it, which he drew on the rooftop of the apartment building he grew up in. He was inspired to create this work when he visited the art class of one of the two high schools he could choose to attend as a teen. This began his life’s work.
Though Zamir creates so much outstanding work, he actually does not have any formal training. This shows just how talented and hard-working Zamir really is. He said that before working on new projects, he just “drives around and picks up wood that he likes.”
Zamir draws inspiration from everyday life when working on solo projects, but he also enjoys collaborating with others and working for commissions. “I enjoy helping someone tell a story or illustrating someone else’s story. It challenges me,” says Zamir.
When looking at his artwork, you may find that in a great deal of it, he includes skulls. “I lost some really good friends in bus explosions, and with my dad in the army, I always had a fear that he would not come back.” These skulls are a reflection of his fear, but he often adds something positive, like birds, to the work as well, which shows his desire to focus on enjoying what he has. He said, “You just live your life. You don’t worry about all the terror and stuff like that. You can’t let terror control you.”
Along with working hard on his artwork, in 2012, Zamir founded Negative Space Gallery and Studio. Negative Space Gallery is a meeting ground for creative people who want to make a difference in the world by enacting their dreams with art. Negative Space provides emerging visual and performing artists resources to experiment, stretch, fail and transform. “The gallery is a platform for all kinds of genres - music, film, etc.,” says Zamir. The gallery also provides a space for Zamir to create and showcase his work.
Zamir teaches as well. He worked in The Lake Academy, which is a school for “at-risk” students, where he started a wood burning program for the students. “The students all got really into it.” He worked with Boy Scouts as well, making a big banner out of wood burned of what being a Boy Scout meant to the kids.
He recently visited Jerusalem with his children and discovered that the drawing he created as a teen on the rooftop of the apartment he grew up in was still there, much to his and his children’s excitement.