Amy Zerner has always done things a little differently than traditional artists who work with a brush and canvas. The Springs artist has earned praise for her tapestries for more than 20 years, and she’s found great success in business, but Zerner continues to grow as an entrepreneur and creative spirit.
The artist’s accomplishments are many. She and her husband Monte Farber have a series of 46 metaphysical books, oracles and tools that feature Zerner’s art and explore ancient teachings, healing power and the mystical arts. Together the couple has sold two million books worldwide that have been translated into 14 languages.
Zerner has also designed her own line of jewelry for Bergdorf Goodman, but she never stopped making the fabric work that made her famous.
“I always did wall pieces. Then I started modifying garments to wear to my gallery shows,” Zerner said, noting that she also wore her art on jackets because it was an easy way to show people and self-promote. In time, Zerner found that she preferred seeing her work on garments and people, and she dropped the gallery scene all together.
“Bergdorfs has become my gallery,” Zerner said, explaining that luxury department store began selling her one-of-a-kind garments in 1999 and Neiman Marcus followed suit.
Zerner shows a collection of 30 new couture pieces at Bergdorf Goodman every two months, and she has also launched a line for women who prefer the clothes without her art. Amy Zerner Spiritual Couture has attracted numerous rich and famous women, including Oprah Winfrey, Martha Stewart, Patti LaBelle, Goldie Hawn, Shirley MacLaine and the late Elizabeth Taylor.
“Each piece is unique, I call it art couture,” Zerner said, noting that she typically makes a panel, just as she would when creating tapestries, and then builds a jacket around it with the help of tailor Michel Cantin.
Her garments are very expensive and fine, but no piece is the same and Zerner creates each panel by hand. The artist said she considered making a more affordable ready to wear line, but decided against it. “I really like keeping it art,” Zerner said, pointing out that her books, tools and jewelry are all inexpensive.
Zerner came from a family of artists and she was always drawn to mixed media. Her grandfather was a painter in the Ashcan School and her mother illustrated children’s books. She attended Pratt Institute in Brooklyn and worked as a Broadway set designer, where Zerner created many of her fabric techniques in the early 1970s. Farber came into her life in 1974, and the couple married four years later.
At the time, Zerner said she was interested in Astrology and she began creating tapestries of the planets, which led to the work that adorns her garments today. “It was kind of an organic evolution,” she said.
Zerner said her work often has deep themes and motifs, but her process is spontaneous, so pieces are rarely planned from start to finish.
Over the years, the artist has found great success in all her endeavors, and she’s learned to be an excellent businesswoman, but her art, no matter what form it takes, will always be Zerner’s passion. “Like Joseph Campbell said, follow your bliss,” Zerner said, reflecting on her career.
To see more of Amy Zerner’s couture and jewelry, visit www.AmyZerner.com, and to see her series of books and oracles, created with husband Monte Farber, visit www.TheEnchantedWorld.com.