An Interview with Artist Maria Zoie Lafis

Detail from “Women in Procession,” by M. Zoie Lafis

Kleos@CHS recently published an interview with M. Zoie Lafis, the Administrative Director of the Center for Hellenic Studies and an accomplished artist who draws on classical themes in her work. Lafis’ paintings have been featured as the cover image for several CHS books. In this most recent interview, Lafis describes the inspiration for creating Women in Procession (detail above), which appears on the cover of Masterpieces of Metonymy, by Gregory Nagy.

CHS: What works influence you as an artist generally? And what were your influences with this piece?

As an artist, I draw from all that surrounds me and resonates with me. In addition to an on-going study of the history of art, my work draws from my environment, and from my relationships with friends and colleagues, especially with fellow artists.

For Women in Procession, I drew not only from Mycenean frescoes but also from the work of Mark Rothko, with which I was very much engaged in the early 2000s. My goal was to open spaces in the composition and set memories of form in it. The layering of pigment is used to evoke the layering of time, and the forms are rendered in a fragmentary way so as to evoke concepts and practices beyond what is immediately visually present, alluding to a metonymic quality and potential.

CHS: What would you like the audience to “read” through the cover of the book?

My hope is that the image on the cover conveys the memory of something masterful, just as it draws from masterpieces of ancient Greek art, and that it continues to resonate with the readers of Masterpieces of Metonymy well after their engagement with the book.

Read the entire interview on Kleos@CHS!