The Co-op is proud to announce new T-shirts designed by local artist, Zoe Hungate. Our Chico community is brimming with local artists and artisans, and we love to partner with them. The Co-op's Artist Series shirt is a great way to own a unique artwork from a one-of-a-kind local artist.
Hungate's incredible talent, love of nature, and deep roots in Chico make her an ideal candidate for our first official participating artist. We asked her a few questions about herself and the art she created for the Co-op’s owners..
Q: How long have you lived in Chico?
A quarter of a century ago I was warmly welcomed into a cozy home just North of Bidwell Park by a local midwife, my parents, & my siblings. Growing up in Chico was pretty dreamy. Bidwell park, the creek, the river, that small town feel, close friends & family, and a real nice dose of wild life at most turns. I happily stuck around to grow up here until I was 17, basically 18 when I decided to move out of the familiar Valley of my youth to the romantic coast of Santa Cruz. I also lived & worked in Olympia Washington for a while, and later the city of Los Angeles in Silver Lake/Echo Park. However, my roots have always been deeply planted & nourished in Chico, so returning here to have my own daughter was a nice way to return home.
Q: Do you have any family in town?
Yes, my partner Cedric, our daughter Stella, and both my parents. Not to mention Upper & Lower Bidwell Park, who may as well be my grandparents Iʼve spent so much quality time with each of them.
Q: Please describe the art you made for the Co-op.
On the surface I drew two wading Great Blue Herons slightly intertwined, sharing earth & sky. In their beaks is an olive branch, which to me represents balance, stability, & coexistence. They are placed in a familiar setting to most Northern California folk: a lush fertile rice field, surrounded by wildlife & vegetation with our Sutter Buttes watching over all. I included the simple wish ʻBe Wellʼ, because when we are healthy in mind, body, & spirit we can contribute so much to the Earth and the world around us. I really wish that for all of us.
Q: Was there a moment of inspiration for this piece? Where do you find your inspiration?
I designed this drawing as a culmination of my entire year of 2014. I finished it in December so it was a way of wrapping up a lot of wonderful thoughts, events, and heron sightings that the year held for me. A wish of well being for everyone and everything in this new year of 2015.
The wild areas around our town are an inspiration to me as well. They hold fragile but strong ecosystems for amazing plants & animals. I like to think of the Blue Heron as wet land royalty, and gate keepers to our town. Always standing tall and collected with open regal wings to grant us entrance home after a journey, or flying overhead to wish us well as we depart on adventures.
"So many truths present themselves when the right amount of sunlight or moonlight shine through."
I see Nature as a magic library. I like to explore it anyway I can, by going outside to listen to what the natural world has to say, or through books and museums. Taking time to look back at what nature has told past generations through their art is both fascinating and enlightening. Iʼm forever seeking to understand what itʼs cycles and seasons can tell us. I tend to draw the thoughts I get from feeling the wind, hearing the sounds, smelling the earth, and squinting at the sky to see whatʼs circling up there. I just really enjoy weaving worlds together with my imagination & ink. Iʼve been told that my interest in things is similar to the flight habits of a hummingbird. My mind darts around and lands on subjects for varying amounts of time before flying to the next highly romanticized version of something. In a list form, some current inspirations that come to mind are..
- My family & friends
- Textiles from different cultures
- Hand woven fabrics & baskets
- Visual language of all great art from the ages (especially The Great Renaissance Masters)
- Elaborate ancient alter pieces
- The Natural History & Science illustrations from experts in existence over the last 400 years
- Photographs by Andy Goldsworthy
- The wisdom of the Farmers Almanac
- And even my most recent fascination with The Royal Ballet.
Q: What are your favorite things about living in the Chico Community?
The old proud trees and the beautiful natural getaways. The vibrancy of the seasons and the creeks as they pass through. Not to mention this community is home to some of my favorite artisans, creative thinkers, and musicians who Iʼm glad to call friends. I salute and appreciate all the locals who dedicate their lives to protecting and providing the arts & culture here. Iʼm also very thankful for the farms and orchards we rely on for local bounty. A morning stroll downtown and through the Co-op or the Saturday Farmers' Market can be so grounding. I am reminded of my of my roots and can feel the pulse of our collective, community heart. I see a lot of charm glimmering through our town and community, making me happy to call it home.
Q: If you could collaborate on a project with any other person, living or dead, who/what would it be?
Oh easy, I would walk everywhere, exploring with John Muir until we found a majestic destination to build a small eco-friendly village. The living spaces would all be based on the first cabin Muir lived in when he arrived at Yosemite as a young man: part of a tree growing through it, moss floors, and a small stream trickling through to lure you to sleep. Then I would set off a flare, and Margaret Kilgallen would hike up to meet us, and together we would paint the small wooden cabins and create hand painted signs everywhere. Once that was set up, Janet Turner & John James Audubon would use our freshly carved and painted signs to find our village and we would hang pretty white bulb lights from the trees and sit together around a huge fire at a big storybook style table and collaborate on large scale drawings of wild animals & landscapes while we eat snacks and drink wine (from the Co-op). Ideally, Emerson & Thoreau would cruise in fashionably late too, towing a cooing gramophone behind them! Oh while Iʼm at it, maybe Iʼll include one other actual living person besides myself: Stacey Rozich, a Seattle based artist whoʼs illustrations/painting I am crazy about, full of animals, masks, people, vibrant colors & fabrics.
Q: What kind of pens do you use?
Any and all with a sturdy nib & a decent flow of ink. As of late my favorite brand is Copic Multiliners (thanks to a friendly recommendation given to me from my friend & local artist Mr. J. Golden). I also like to use a quill or Japanese calligraphy brushes with ink.
Q: How can we find out more about your work?
Until I get my Aurum & Ink website/store up, the best place would be the Aurum & Ink Instagram, or Facebook art page. Iʼm always glad to be walking upstream, navigating the process of balancing my time with commissioned work & personal works.
*I would like to end this by thanking Dylan Tellesen, Suzy Tolen and the Co-op as a whole, for inviting me to participate in the Artist Series!*