Passion: Expressing thoughts and conversations through art.
In a world where efficiency and speed are prioritized, Evan Zuercher is intentional about allowing ideas and projects to carry weight in the present moment. Those thoughts are able to sit and exist in his mind for days, weeks, months, and even years. This process does require him to ignore other ideas that could have been good pieces of art, but it provides a stronger meaning and complexity as he stews on the concepts that really matter to him in his artistic expression.
Evan doesn’t place any restrictions on the mediums of art that he uses to express his thoughts. He does not hold himself to do only the things that he is already excellent in doing. Evan explained how he did not have an art teacher in high school, so he has become comfortable with learning some artistic mediums from scratch. When he began painting, he would paint over and over on the same canvas until it felt like he was making progress in sharing a vision of what was in his mind.
In this conversation, you’ll read how two years spent in Costa Rica changed Evan’s art into what it is today. Instead of creating art solely to make something visually attractive, he now uses art primarily as a way to express thoughts, emotions, and conversations with the Lord. When this shift happened with the purpose of his art, it opened up opportunities for him to try new things in pursuit of a fuller expression. He no longer felt obligated to stick with things that he knew best. Now, he experiments with different types of paint, or materials, or even modes of expression.
Evan began learning about music theory, and other aspects of music, which allows him to write and play songs in ways that more fully express thoughts and feelings.
My conversation with Evan was inspiring, because it gave me access to the mind of a true artist. The following words are from someone fully experiencing and living in their art, not just creating with an algorithm to fit current trends or commercial approval.
In a world where it is becoming increasingly beneficial to look through the eyes of others, we need people like Evan who are willing to share their perspectives without filter or reservation. I encourage you to read my story with Evan, and then view his art with an intent to learn and seek understanding of his thoughts and perspective.
“I've always been creative and artistically minded. As a kid during recess, I would sit down and make things for plays that I was envisioning in my head. They never would come to a reality, it was just my way of having fun and using my imagination.
I remember specifically that one of the plays was about a book we had just read in school about a mouse. My teacher had said, ‘This would be a fun play,’ and I was immediately like, ‘Yes!’ So, I spent the whole day making mouse tails for everyone.”
“Art has gone through different mediums for me. Which is where I still find myself now. I love art and expression, but I don't just have one clear way that I express my art. In school, I was really interested in drama and photography. But, I also always liked drawing, which has really progressed to what I do today. When I first started with photography, I remember that it was really abstract and nature-related. Then, it became fine-art, like weird stuff, because I had found this super unique photographer that I loved.
So, at that point, I started doing a lot with photoshop and creating artistic renderings. Eventually, I got more into portraits and lifestyle shoots. Art, in general, has taken many turns for me.”
“When first asked about this interview, I was like, 'I don't know what my passion really is.' Everyone says my passion is art, but I find that it's deeper than that. I realized that my passion is more about the actual expression and being transparent in my thoughts and feelings... living in that way. Creativity and art are just the tools that I use to do that. I never thought of my passion in that way until I began thinking ahead to this conversation.”
“In high school, I just felt like I was good at art, because I knew that people respected me for it. So, I just kept doing it and working on it. However, I remember the first time that I actually started fusing my life into my art. It was when I moved to Costa Rica. I just started doodling and journaling. I would draw all of these things that I was feeling and learning while I was there. This was the real start to what I am doing now. Instead of just creating art to create, I was now doing it with an intention. This motivation for creating art became a way for me to respond to my heart and what I was experiencing and feeling. It was also a way for me to dialogue with the Lord and let Him shape it. Art is just the tool that I can use to have those conversations. One day, I can be painting, and then I find myself out taking photos. And for a while I was into working with cement and finding ways to express thoughts and feelings with that medium. I was also creating clothes for a while. It really is kind of a melting pot for me, just whatever strikes me and makes sense for that thought at that moment in time.”
“Normally, my art begins with a sketch and the fleshing out of an idea, putting it on paper. Then, it starts to morph into what it needs to be. For example, I started painting this outstretched arm on glass, because it was really cool that it was transparent. Then, one night I took it outside because there was a really beautiful sunset. I photographed the sunset coming through it. I love doing that… putting a piece somewhere else, so the Lord affects it with the light, or with the different environments and backgrounds. It's almost like getting it to a place where it's a bit less controlled. It is less specifically directed by me.
(In reference to the piece with multiple panes of glass) I placed it in the corner and allowed the light to change it as the sun shifted into the sunset. This idea was a product of a thought about time in relation to eternity. As I let the light shift, the piece came alive. The figures moved and interacted with each other. So, that is the kind of stuff that I get excited about.”
“For the longest time, I wanted art to be how I made money. I still would love to get to that point, and I am working on refining my skills and everything. But, there's also no longer a pressure with that, because I'm also really content with it just being a hobby for me.
Something that I would love to be able to do is to get involved with other people who are also doing art and we could dwell on our common ideas. We could express those thoughts together artistically. Or, if I could even just be a facilitator of that kind of artistic community for other people. There's not a clear job title for that, so it's just more of a vision for now.”
“I love shooting portraits to capture moments. Whenever I take pictures of someone, I try to capture the essence of the moment, instead of trying to get it to fit 'my style' or something. I see a lot of photographers, and I have done this also, who edit their photos to all have the same color tones... or to get colors and exposure just perfect. Instead, I like to look at the shoot and think, 'What colors are here in this woods?' And then pull those colors out in that shoot. I do think my mind switches to, 'How do I express this moment?' instead of trying to make it how I want it to be.”
“My friends are all in different realms of art. So, they inspire me in their unique ways. Also, I meet regularly with my small group, and we really inspire each other a lot. There are so many times where the things we've been talking about and discussing come out in my art. It's these things that I've really been stewing on for a long time with other people.
This (referencing the piece with the arm and the serpent) is from a passage in Numbers. All of the Israelites are dying from snakebites, so God tells Moses to lift up the serpent and whoever looks upon it is saved. Later in John, Jesus talks about that event and says, 'And so the Son of Man will be lifted up.' Our small group was talking about this for some time, and we compared it to how Jesus is our salvation and as we look to Him we are saved. Salvation really is that simple. It is so simple that it can be offensive to those who feel like they have worked their whole lives to perfect their faith. Especially when they see someone like the criminal next to Jesus at His crucifixion. This sinful man was saved in his dying conversation with the Lord.
I liked combining the repellant vision of the snake with the attractive image of Jesus' arm. I also chose to keep the snake transparent, because it really isn't about the snake. For this piece, our small group had talked about the concept for a little over a year. And it just sat with me. I probably have random sketches of it everywhere. Sketches of different ideas of what it could look like. I kept the concept in my head and allowed it to sit with me for a while, and let the Lord talk to me about it.”
“I feel like God often wants to reveal things to us, but He also leaves it to mystery so we can participate in a search for it. The process of revelation and discovery can teach us as much as what we eventually find. I try to do something similar with my art. I like to reveal things, but I also leave them slightly hidden. If you are willing to look for it, then you will find it... but it's also not going to be blatantly obvious.”
“I look back on the art I created before living in Costa Rica, and it feels really flat to me. I am sure most people wouldn't realize it, but I look at it and think, 'It's cool and visually interesting, but there isn't really any depth to it for me.' For me, my art became more meaningful and took on a depth when I brought it into my conversation with God and allowed myself to speak to Him through it. To hear His meaning through what I was creating. If I look at my art from high school, I see myself creating things from an emotional place. It was all very depressing. Now, I still make art from that spot, but it's less of me just speaking out something through my work, and more of a conversation through those times. It is of me hearing and listening. It comes from a conversation with the Lord, in a place of community, not from just a place of isolation and loneliness.
I'm trying to listen too, and not just speak.”
“What keeps me coming back is the idea of keeping my heart engaged with life. Letting myself journal and process. Even if I come out here to the studio and all I do is draw something. Being intentional about reminding myself to take time to process what I'm thinking and feeling, and putting it down on something physical, is what keeps me coming back.
If I'm really busy and stressed, coming out to this room can be the last thing that I really want to do, but it's actually the first thing that I really should do.
It takes time to come out to the studio, and it limits other things that I can do. It can seem like it's shutting down on myself and my productivity, but it's actually a shut down of all of the noise going on around me. It's not shutting people out, it's more of just quieting myself, which can help me become more of what I need to be when I walk back out this door to the world.”