By Eleni Sakellis
NEW YORK – Greek-American artist Eleni Theodora Zaharopoulos recently received a New Works Grant for Individual Artists funded by the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs/ Greater New York Arts Development Fund in partnership with the NYC Council, part of the Queens Council on the Arts (QCA) 2017 Queens Arts Fund.
Born and raised in Queens, Zaharopoulos now divides her time between New York City and Detroit, working on collaborative and solo projects that range in shape and size. Her interdisciplinary, whimsical, and thought-provoking work has appeared at the Shanghai Biennale, Flint Public Art Project, Jack NYC, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, among a variety of venues.
Zaharopoulos spoke with The National Herald about the grant, her work, and what inspires her as an artist.
TNH: Arts funding seems especially under threat lately, so as an artist, how do you cope and what does the QCA grant mean for you at this point in your career?
ETZ: Getting the QCA grant is tremendous! I am so incredibly grateful to the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs for this opportunity. It makes me very sad knowing that certain elected officials don’t care about the arts and I’m scared about the future of arts funding in New York and the nation at large. When an artist has a project supported and then actualized more opportunities become available for that artist. Relationships are built and networks inherently grow as the artist builds a foundation for themselves. I worry in general for all artists out in the world trying to make a living. Professional artists are special creatures who should be celebrated and supported, not ridiculed and cast aside. It’s a shame how much we have to compete for such limited resources.
TNH: What inspires you as an artist?
ETZ: People! More specifically my family and friends. I am interested in building bridges between people and places through acts of invitation and participation.
TNH: If you weren’t an artist, what would you choose as a profession?
ETZ: I’d probably be working for the family business, haha.
TNH: Where in Greece is your family from?
ETZ: My parents are both from small villages in Peloponessos. My mom is from Potamia just outside of Sparti and my dad was from Simopoulo which is near Pyrgos. They met in Astoria in the 60’s.
TNH: What upcoming projects and exhibitions of your work we can look forward to?
ETZ: My next project is called the Malba Arts Project and it is what I received the QCA grant for. It’s a collaborative arts project taking place this summer in my childhood home that temporarily transforms private into public as a means to introduce arts and discourse into the neighborhood of Malba, Queens. I am currently seeking participating artists for it! More info about it can be found online at: malbaartsproject.tumblr.com.
I am co-facilitating the following discussion at Movement Research with two collaborators on May 9th: https://movementresearch.org/event/4823. I am also currently in residency at Flux Factory, located in Long Island City, and will have a show in their gallery the beginning of August. I’m still working on the show’s theme but it will most likely combine art and commerce.
TNH: Where can people view samples of your work?
ETZ: A photo essay I did about Athens called Athens Lifted can be viewed online: http://www.infinitemiledetroit.com/Athens_Lifted_by_Eleni_Zaharopoulos.html.
Lifted has two meanings in this project. One is to elevate the city itself and the other meaning is to plagiarize because I created my text by lifting and combining sentences from articles about anarchists in Greece and from Athens travel guides.
More information about Eleni Theodora Zaharopoulos is available on her website: www.happyabandon.com.
The Queens Arts Fund provides funding for projects throughout the borough in a wide range of disciplines, enabling residents and visitors alike to experience high quality art all year long.
The Queens Arts Fund is committed to supporting emerging artists from diverse cultural backgrounds, working within all disciplines to create work that provides open and equal access for audiences in Queens to further racial and cultural equity. The Queens Arts Fund will distribute 124 grants in over $284,000 to 36 Queens individual artist grants and 67 arts organization grants in the disciplines of visual arts, film, theatre, multi-media, literary arts, dance, and music.
The awardees, an incredible group of creative thinkers, represent a wide range of cultural activities that will take place throughout Queens year round. All awardees were selected in a competitive peer panel process through the 2017 Queens Arts Fund grant cycle.
QCA is the borough-wide arts council of Queens. Its mission is to foster, and develop the arts in Queens County and to support individual artists and arts organizations in presenting their cultural diversity for the benefit of the community. More information is available at www.queenscouncilarts.org.