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F5: Stop for a Moment of Calm With Artist Zai Divecha

10.22.21 | By
F5: Stop for a Moment of Calm With Artist Zai Divecha
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light skinned woman with short dark hair wearing white button up shirt and looking away from the camera

Photo: Diana Divecha

Artist Zai Divecha is a San Francisco-based artist whose work invites you to breathe for a minute, a quiet, calm respite in an overstimulating world. By folding, pleating or rolling sheets of white paper, she creates intricate patterns of light and shadow. Zai has shown at Marrow Gallery, West Coast Craft and the American Craft Council. Some of her clients include Instagram, Twitter and Square. Zai is a Bay Area native and a Yale graduate.

Today Zai joins us for Friday Five!

framed colorful symmetrical artwork hanging on white wall in front of dining set

Photo: Zai Divecha

1. Colorful Artwork
I’ve recently started investing more in original artwork for my home. When it comes to collecting art, I find myself drawn to bold, saturated works – art that feels very different from my own. My partner and I recently bought this painting from Rithika Merchant, an Indian artist in Barcelona (she’s also a cousin of mine). I love her rich, lush exploration of mythological narratives. We also just bought an exuberant, colorful piece from Travis Weller, a local Bay Area artist who layers cut paper into looping, swirling motifs. Buying original art can be so special – it’s so personal and vulnerable to invite someone else’s craft and vision into one’s home. I love being on both sides of this interaction: It’s an honor to make work for other people’s homes, and it’s also deeply fulfilling to invest in artists whose work I feel connected to.

light skinned woman with short dark hair wearing glasses and headphones

Photo: Zai Divecha

2. Audiobooks
It took me a while to get on the audiobook bandwagon, but now that I’m on it, I’m hooked. I listen while I’m making art, doing dishes or walking my dog. In an effort to give less money to Amazon, I recently switched my audiobook subscription from Audible to Libro.fm. They’re independently owned and give a portion of your subscription fee to the local bookstore of your choice. I can’t help but plug a few of my recent favorites. For witty linguistics books that you’ll surely end up quoting to friends, Because Internet by Gretchen McCulloch and Wordslut by Amanda Montell are clever and entertaining. If you’re open to having your views challenged, I found that both Caste by Isabel Wilkerson and What We Don’t Talk About When We Talk About Fat by Aubrey Gordon fundamentally changed the way I understand facets of American society. For characters that you’ll fall in love with and won’t want to say goodbye to, dive into A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry and A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara.

open water covered in fog

Photo: Zai Divecha

3. Fog
I’m obsessed with fog. As a San Francisco resident and Bay Area native, I take a lot of pride in our city’s most iconic type of weather. I love the way it turns any scene or vista into quiet, subtle ombré, a gradient that ends in a whiteout. I especially love when it’s layered thick over the city, like a cozy, familiar blanket. It also makes for beautiful lighting for outdoor portraits – “nature’s softbox,” a photographer friend recently joked. Because of San Francisco’s hilly topography, the city has lots of little microclimates, and the weather varies quite a bit from neighborhood to neighborhood. When my partner and I moved a year ago, fogginess was actually one of our main search criteria. We picked a neighborhood that’s known to be especially foggy!

shelves with plants and kitchen pieces

Photo: Zai Divecha

4. Houseplants
I have houseplants in every room of my home, and all over my studio as well. They’re weirdly entertaining – my fellow plant-lovers will know what I’m talking about. For instance, the cactuses pictured here have been growing so fast that I’ve taken to marking their height on the wall monthly, the way my parents would measure our heights on our kitchen door frame when we were kids. (I’m currently fostering those cactuses – along with about 15 other plants – for a friend who’s on the East Coast for a year. I’m honored she entrusted me to care for her babies!) My extensive houseplant collection also serves as a source of inspiration for organic patterns, forms and textures. Nature has so much to offer artists.

light skinned woman in biking apparel riding in

Photo: Dalton Nonweiler

5. Cycling
Biking meets so many of my core needs as a human: It gets me out into nature, it gives me long stretches of quality time with friends, it gets my heart rate up and it always makes me feel emotionally and mentally refreshed. My intensity around cycling ebbs and flows, though. Some years, I really push myself, like the time I did the Death Ride: 5,000 feet of elevation over 124 miles in one day, which required some serious training. But most of the time, I just go out on joy rides. Lately, I’ve been experimenting with sports photography. I’ll sling a camera over my shoulder and try to get action shots of my friends while we’re on the move. I’ve really enjoyed layering a creative hobby on top of an athletic hobby.

Work by Zai Divecha:

framed white relief art

Photo: Zai Devecha

closeup of white relief art

Photo: Zai Devecha

Kelly Beall is senior editor at Design Milk. The Pittsburgh-based graphic designer and writer has had a deep love of art and design for as long as she can remember, and enjoys sharing her finds with others. When undistracted by great art and design, she can be found making a mess in the kitchen, consuming as much information as possible, or on the couch with her three pets. Find her @designcrush on social.