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Artist Corner: Oxford Native Zoe Fitch Brings Surrealism to Life

By Talbert Toole
Lifestyles Editor

Being lost in space may seem terrifying for some; however, for Ole Miss student and Oxford native Zoe Fitch, being lost in her art studio space brings creativity, inspiration and productivity. Her canvases come to life as she makes bold brushes with vivid colors to channel her personal and intimate life.

Ole Miss student and Oxford native Zoe Fitch uses bodies as vessels for story telling in her pieces. Photo by Talbert Toole.

Fitch grew up surrounded by creatives in her family and those in Oxford’s growing art community. Her mother and aunt kept busy during Fitch’s childhood with crafts, which she also began pursuing. 

Fitch continued taking art classes when she reached high school, but said she only began taking art seriously when she arrived to college.

Initially, Fitch began her college career with aspirations to become a nurse. After speaking with local community artists—along with student artists who would eventually become her professors—Fitch began to ponder the possibility of becoming an artist herself.

“They really believed in the potential that a person’s creativity can have [influence] on other people,” Fitch said.

Fitch said she uses her dog, Nala, as inspiration because when she is in the studio she misses her. Photo by Talbert Toole.

Fitch finally made the decision to pursue her artistic passion as a future career and applied to the Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) program—a prestigious and rigorous program that requires prospective students to present a competitive portfolio after a completion of 18 hours of studio art classes.

The majority of Fitch’s paintings include one or two main subjects. Although her pieces are technically portraits, Fitch describes them as narratives because she sees the painted bodies as a vessels to show emotion. 

“[The body] is to show what a person is feeling,” Fitch said. “But it doesn’t have to have the person, so that takes away the portrait from the person.”

By taking away the subject’s identity, it also takes away what is considered to be pretty, Fitch said. Instead, it allows her painted subject to tell a story.

Selecting a style

When Fitch first began to test her creative abilities, she was unsure of her artistic style. She knew she wanted to be a surrealist—the 20th-century avant-garde movement in art and literature that sought to release the creative potential of the unconscious mind. 

Her process first began experimenting with mixed mediums like adding ripped pieces of paper towels, buttons and bullets to her canvases. She added man made objects to her art with the intention of creating a sense of life and connection with an individual audience member to another person, she said.

Although now she doesn’t use as much mixed media in her artwork, Fitch said she still continues to paint objects that can create a sense of symbolism for her audience.

What might seem like random objects are actually used as a tactic to connect an audience member to another person or memory, Fitch said. Photo by Talbert Toole.

Fitch is now approaching her final semester of the BFA program. After endless hours in her studio, Fitch has begun the process of preparing for her thesis show. After she stretches her canvases onto frames she has built herself, Fitch is ready to hang her artwork for the LOU community to view.

Fitch’s next step in the artistic world is continuing her education. In the future, she said she wants to dabble in displaying her work in galleries nationwide and eventually become an art professor.

Fitch’s thesis show, which is open to the public, will be held Nov. 15 from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. in Meek Hall on the Ole Miss campus.

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