Tiffany Bozic’s explorations into nature and the animal kingdom have opened a window into the heart of the human condition. Through her astute observations and a profound connection with the natural world, Bozic creates percipient visual metaphors with universal clarity. Her surreal and symbolic narratives trigger a myriad of searching thoughts pertaining to facets of human existence, with a particular focus on our emotional bonds, survival mechanisms, fears and self identity. Tiffany Bozic’s personal history and her own private inner world are at the core of her creative practice, which has a strong autobiographical impetus. Assiduous research is also key, and she often accompanies her ornithologist husband on expeditions to remote locations, allowing her to form intimate connections with her subject matter and also providing her with the knowledge and insight that we see exuding from her intriguing work.
Tiffany Bozic was born in 1979 in Russellville, AR, and is currently living and working in San Francisco, California. She is a self-taught artist. Her art has been exhibited extensively throughout the US and she has work residing in prestigious collections such as that of permanent collection of the U.S. Embassy.
WOW x WOW is very grateful to have been able to speak to Tiffany as she was putting the finishing touches to the work for her upcoming and highly anticipated solo exhibition, entitled ‘The Animal In Us’, which opens at Joshua Liner Gallery on 17th March. Read on!
Hi Tiffany! Thanks ever so much for freeing up some of your valuable time to have this wee chat with us, we really appreciate it. To start us off, if you would please introduce yourself, touching on anything you feel relevant to story of Tiffany Bozic the artist?
Sure! My name is Tiffany Bozic. I am currently living in the woods just north of San Francisco, CA. I have been making paintings of animals since I was a kid.
We’re interested to hear about where you’re currently living and what you like about the area? What is the art scene like there and do you feel a part of that community?
I have been living in the Bay Area since 1999. A few years ago my husband and I bought a house up in Marin, CA. It is nestled in a hillside under towering redwood trees with coyotes, bobcats, spotted owls, and turkeys. It is very rich in inspiration.
I do have a few artist friends that I am close to here, but sadly, most have moved away. So my community here in the Bay Area is comprised mostly of friends working in very diverse fields from mine, which is enriching and interesting.
Nature, and in particular the animal kingdom, is clearly one of your biggest sources of inspiration. What are some of the earliest memories you have, which contributed to forming the foundation of your lifelong passion for, and interest in wildlife?
I originally come from a dairy farm in Arkansas. There I was free to roam around by myself and develop my imagination and my relationships with the animals living on our farm. We had hundreds of goats, but also horses, cows, pigs, chickens, etc. I witnessed the cycle of life & death up close in birth and slaughterhouses and it had a lasting impact on me.
Your work explores the wide gamut of human emotion via the universal symbolism and metaphors that can be created through using animals and the natural world as the storytellers. How do you approach this aspect of your work?
I haven’t necessarily come up with a uniform approach. I try to spend time outdoors whenever I can and take photos for my library to later reference. Sometimes I build sets or dioramas in my studio. The visions come to me in a myriad of ways and each present a new challenge that I have to figure out how to solve.
As you’ve stated, the photographs you use as inspiration and reference for your work are mainly images you have captured yourself while on various field trips. Talk to us a little about what started you down this path. We would also really appreciate if you would be willing to reminisce about a tale from one of your trips which inspired a particular painting.
Most of the time I work from my own photographs that I’ve taken on my trips. Sometimes this is just impossible though. For example, I just finished a painting today called ‘Growth’ featuring deep-sea organisms. For a large part of the painting I referenced an elaborate bouquet of flowers I commissioned my florist friend Natasha to build for me. So once I had the structure and composition worked out I had to build the rest of the creatures over and around it. Unfortunately since I do not currently own a deep-sea submersible (sadly), I had to resort to referencing royalty free photographs. I can combine several photos into one to make each animal ‘my own’, but it’s a very slow & tedious process so I definitely prefer to reference my own photos whenever possible.
This same painting was inspired by a night dive near Madang on my first trip to Papua New Guinea in 2006. I have always been deeply fearful of swimming in black water. So to face my fears I decided to take a boat out in the light of the moon. I was about 40 feet down in the pitch darkness when I came across a bioluminescent jellyfish with rainbow strobe lights pulsating right in front of me. Metaphorically, deep-sea creatures represent my own darkest fears and desire’s so I kept returning to that jellyfish in my mind over the years. I finally decided to paint it nearly a decade later to represent the inner change and growth that I feel I’ve experienced as I’ve grown older. You never really stop feeling fear, but in time you learn to harness the fear into positive empathy and wisdom.
Elements of your work are autobiographical. Is it a conscious decision to include the personal, or is it just something that comes about naturally?
It is natural. Up until now I have been most interested in the exploring what it means to be human, my relationships with those I care most about, and my relationship to the natural world.
Most artists will agree upon the importance of continually setting yourself new creative goals and challenges. In what ways have you seen your work evolve since you started down the path of being a professional artist and what new ways do you envisage pushing yourself in the near future?
My goal has always been the same: to grow. I still feel like I have so much to learn. I want to discover as much as I can about the world and my place in it, to push myself into the unknown. One of the benefits that comes with experience is learning to trust myself on a deeper level, to take risks and accept that sometimes the greatest growth can come from mistakes.
Being an artist who works within the visual realm, can you shed some light on some of the most important inspirations and influences on your work that aren’t visual?
The invisible thing that shapes everything I produce is emotion. I have always been very inspired by music for this reason.
Do the interpretations viewers offer about your work ever end up influencing what you produce? What are your thoughts about the dialogue and conversation cycle, which is created between the artist and viewer?
I am very aware that as an artist I am an absorbent creature and subconsciously I can pick up on external signals, which is why I try to keep that vulnerable part of myself private in order to protect it. I only show works in progress to my close friends and family. I do not look at what other artists are creating often or pay much attention to what other people say about my work whether it is positive or negative. That said, I do feel deeply grateful to anyone who takes the time to view my work and if they approach me I am open. If they share their feelings with me I see it as an opportunity to gain access into another persons point of view. Everyone has their own unique vision or translation that is a reflection of themselves and their own experiences.
What are your opinions about beauty in reference to man-made artifacts? Is beauty something that you search for in art and is it something you consider when producing your own work?
That is a good question and I have been thinking about it a lot lately. I will say that although I do not deliberately set out to create things that are ‘beautiful’ I do like to surround myself with things that have lovely simple design. I am aware though that what I find beautiful might be different than most. For example I recently made a painting called Death, which features over 100 arachnids forming a netlike tapestry over a black field. Some people have told me that this painting makes them uncomfortable but I adore the textures, colors and design of their anatomy. The way the light glimmers off their shells against the darkness feels soothing to me.
What’s next for Tiffany Bozic?