by Rosalie Murphy

Carly Zimmerman graduated from the University of Akron in December. When she started college, she thought she’d be an art teacher. Instead, today, she’s the Assistant Farm Manager at Crown Point Ecology Center in Bath, where she starts seeds, nurtures and harvests vegetables and helps administer a community-supported agriculture (CSA) program.

Carly describes herself as “Someone who wants to involve art and community together… That’s why I love printmaking, because it’s very community-driven.” 

“In the print shop, there’s always so many people moving around, and we’re always bouncing ideas off each other. It just feels like a family, which is how art should make you feel. It should make you feel good,” Carly says. “That’s what I want my art to represent: Feeling good and pushing through the bullshit.” 

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Carly prints on handmade paper or other biodegradable materials, using rich palettes of earth tones to communicate calm, balance and abundance. 

“After the storm, it’s like everything just got watered, and things are able to grow because of it,” she says.

Rosalie Murphy: How did you find printmaking? 

Carly Zimmerman: I did a little bit of monoprinting in high school, and in college I took a class, fell in love, loved my professors, and I was like, ‘OK, I want to keep doing this,’ and within a couple semesters I was like, ‘OK, this is going to be one of my majors.’

Right now, I’ve been focusing more on painting, and I’ve been working in my sketchbook a lot, just because I am working full-time now. Always carrying a sketchbook around has been how I’ve continued making. The good thing with the printmaking media that I chose, it’s relief [printing], so I don’t really need a press to do it, unlike other forms of printmaking [that require] all that equipment.

Part of why I’m making [art] now is trying to find this balance of all this instability. Trying to find balance right now, with everything that’s happening in the world… That’s important to me. 

RM: What do you think is next for you? 

CZ: I’m growing organic vegetables right now, which is not anything that I went to school for, and I love it so much. I kind of decided that, in my life, I definitely need to make art, and I definitely need to do something involving the environment. In school, I was gathering paper scraps — people were throwing them away and I was repurposing them — and trying to be as resourceful as I can. Even the linoleum that I’m carving out of is cork linoleum, so it’s biodegradable. 

RM: How did you start farming?

CZ: Three years ago, my friend just was like, ‘Hey, do you want to work here?’ I live super close, so I was like, ‘yeah, I need a summer job.’ I love being outside. A lot of my art is influenced by it; I love earth tones. It kind of all makes sense now, because what my art is representing and what I’m doing out in the field is kind of the same thing — [it’s] what I want my life to be about.

RM: What do you do at Crown Point Ecology Center?

CZ: I’m an assistant farm manager. I help lead our interns; growing seedlings, planting, harvesting; we have a CSA; we have a plant sale. My favorite task is harvesting our vegetables, because it’s like, you’ve been waiting for months and watering and taking care of these plants, and you get that first tomato — it’s what you’ve been working up to. Once we start getting our vegetables, actually being able to pick them out and eat them, literally the fruit of our labor. 

I think it’s important to know where your food is coming from. That’s been our whole message this year — know your farmer, know how this is being grown, and why it’s so important, and just coming out here and being part of it all. 

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RM: What is it that makes you want to make art?

CZ: I feel like I just need to, like, do something with my hands. Having these visions and putting them into a piece of paper or on a canvas… When I’m making art or making a painting, I try to make each part of the painting something that [I’m happy with.] I’ve been working on [my sketchbook] for almost a year now, and I want every page to be something that I’m happy with. So if I don’t like it, I’ll just plop another piece of paper over top of it until I feel satisfied. I know whatever I envision in my head, it’s never going to be like that, so going through that journey of making is really exciting. 

See more of Carly’s work at carlyzim.weebly.com or on Instagram at @carlyzim. 

Rosalie Murphy is The Devil Strip’s Editor-in-Chief. Reach her at rosalie@thedevilstrip.com

Photos: used with permission of Carly Zimmerman

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