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Zavisha Chromicz

Medium: Mixed media and fibre art

Location: Cambridge, Ontario


Viral Darling, 2021

angora, wool, cashmere, alpaca, silk, sequins, beads, copper wire, tubing, rubber glove, hair curler, makeup brush, telephone wire, mascara wand, Lite-Brite light, baby soother, non-slip bath mat, tampon applicator, brass, Bumpits, 19 x 12 x 7 ½ inches (private collection)

Courtesy of Paul Petro Contemporary Art, Toronto. Photos by Toni Hafkenscheid.


Zavisha Chromicz is a queer, fat, trans, mixed-Roma, self-taught artist who makes mixed media and fibre art. They create textile pieces that incorporate materials such as discarded mascara wands, broken toys, suction bath mats, electrical cables, and other found objects, transforming them into exquisitely detailed and beautiful artworks. Their work has been shown at two exhibitions at Paul Petro Contemporary Art: The calming beauty of the body’s molecular landscape and Mother Load: The challenge of suturing the mitochondrial tear (both in 2022).

How would you describe your practice?

I would say it's a form of cathartic healing for me. The medium I use mostly stays within textiles, but I mix a lot of different things not traditionally considered textile. It was only a few years ago that I really fully started creating this particular kind of art and then it had to do a lot with me figuring out how to heal enough from complex PTSD to be able to allow creativity to flow out. I use this as a form of the highest kind of care therapy for myself. So whatever comes out for other people, that's a beautiful thing, but this is a conversation with myself.

How do you find or choose the materials with which your work?

It's really a sort of questioning or conversation, every single time I have a PTSD episode or I'm triggered. One of my coping mechanisms that I learned in therapy was to pick up whatever was around me and ground myself in it by describing it and looking at it. So I kind of honed that. I often look for objects that, at that moment, are the perfect thing. So it could be a bottle cap or a thimble or something. Anything that's around me. That object is a process of calming my triggers. And then that is what I put into the art.

It's really amazing how really anything is beautiful. It's just how you're able to glimpse it at that moment. What is able to reveal itself? As for creating, it's really just organic—a conversation between my state of mind, my life history, and the little object I pick up.

Could you walk us through your creative process from finding materials to incorporating them into a piece?

Now that I'm working more closely with Paul Petro, I understand a little bit more how to have a certain theme. So now I'm thinking of things that I really want to say whereas before, it was just about me and my conversation with myself. Now I'm opening up, wanting to convey things that others can also understand.

Have you found any significant challenges to working with materials such as shark cartilage, shell casings, and electrical cables?

I think they can all be beautiful and healing, but my hands get very tortured from the amount of work that it takes. The shell casings were from the outside of our cottage where there was a sort of rural shooting range where kids go and shoot their buck shots. I guess that's what you do in rural places. It was like a storeroom with thousands of bullets. The sun was hitting them in this right way and it just looked so beautiful, you know? It's like, how insane is it that bullets look so stunning?

Moja Troika, 2020

angora, wool, cashmere, alpaca, silk, sequins, beads, beauty blender, makeup brush, gentlemen’s club VIP rope, plastic orbs, mascara wand, seed pods, shell casing, mesh, electrical cables, sun hat, suction bath mat, vintage bakelite beads, 28 x 29 x 10 inches

Courtesy of Paul Petro Contemporary Art, Toronto. Photos by Toni Hafkenscheid.

Are there any new types of materials you’re interested in repurposing?

I moved to Cambridge and there are tire carcasses by the side of the road everywhere—like blown-out tires. And I just find them so beautiful. Sometimes they look like spiderwebs. I really want to stop the car, collect them, and make something on a bigger scale.

In what ways do your techniques push conventional boundaries?

For me, there are no boundaries and I don't apply value in a traditional way. I have mother of pearl and mohair and crystals and gems of all kinds, but I don't put more value on them than I do on a tampon applicator. So, whatever speaks to me is as valuable and beautiful as things conventionally seen as valuable.

How can galleries make their spaces more accessible?

I think there need to be more increased opportunities for everyone to be able to participate in loving art. Visual tours, obviously, all the physical sort of disability stuff, obviously, but, as a result of my disabilities, I wasn’t able to be in the academic world, which would have helped along my artistic career. I find artistic academia completely inaccessible. And I would say most people I know who are disabled and are artists, are in the same position.

Tell us about a favourite piece you’ve created and why it’s so memorable.

I really loved the last piece that I did, because it was many little pieces that were brought together. It's called Mother Load and, basically, why it was so powerful for me it was sort of a forgiveness to my own self for surviving trauma from my mother and my childhood. It's an ode to her. I cannot be with her or see her—that’s still not healthy for me—but it was a thank you to her, of a sort. So that was a very powerful piece for me.

Mother Load: The challenge of suturing the mitochondrial tear, 2021

gutted baseballs, HEPA filters, rubber bathtub stopper, dental picks, medical tubing, 60s hair curlers, latex gloves, silicone scrubbies, rubberized seed pods, fire hose, CPAP machine tubing, skipping ropes, pantyhose, found doilies, raw silk, alpaca, lambswool, silk cocoons, sequins, glass beads, crystals, makeup brushes, cleaning bristle brushes, mink stole, bullet casings, mother of pearl, shark cartilage, seashells, baby bottle nipples, livestock rubber teat, Covid testing plastic tube, deconstructed masks, toy car wheels, bread clips, dehydrated latex paint that resembles the erosion of cliff formations, 104 x 88 x 42 inches (dimensions variable.)

Courtesy of Paul Petro Contemporary Art, Toronto. Photos by Toni Hafkenscheid.

What’s next for you?

I am working on something right now. It is also very personal, very much to do with my body.

Tell us about something or someone our readers should know about.

I really admire the art gallery space called Tangled Art, which has galleries for and by disabled artists.


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