Amy Zaremba is a community artist, painter, and writer living on the fabulous east side of Madison, WI with her brilliant forester husband and two semi-smart dogs. Amy has been an artist all of her life transitioning over the years from crayons on paper to latex paint on giant walls. Formal education includes a Bachelors in Studio Art and English Literature from UW Madison and a detour to a law degree from DePaul College of Law in Chicago.
Amy works freelance as Zaremba Art, LLC and as a lead artist and grant writer for Dane Arts Mural Arts. When not working on community mural projects or private commissions she paints urban landscapes with acrylic paint on panels in her home studio. Amy is driven to use art as a way to bring people together, improve mental wellness and enhance social bonds. She has worked as a community artist in Madison for just over two years. After discovering the power of community mural-making through volunteer work with DAMA there was no going back.
Get to know Amy better
How did you come to work at your current organization?
I approached DAMA as a volunteer artist just over two years ago. I was drawn in by the way they are able to use art to empower individuals and communities. I took over grant writing duties in 2018 and work with the fundraising committee to help expand our programming capabilities.
Why is the work that you do important to the Madison community? Why is it important for you?
The work we do bridges gaps in Art education, beautifies neighborhoods and connects individuals and communities through creativity. This work is important to me because I know how effective art can be in helping one to overcome difficulties and find common ground with others.
What is your vision for Madison?
I picture a vibrant city filled with public art. I want to see a city that celebrates its diverse population with organizations that can partner together to achieve common goals.
When you look back over your whole life – What experiences have shaped you as a woman? and Why?
I earned an undergraduate degree in studio art and English literature at UW Madison then I went on to law school in Chicago. This decision and experience forced me to learn how to stand up for myself and to question what I was trying to prove to the world. As a girl, I was always trying to show that I was good enough and smart enough without thinking about what I wanted to get out of life. The demands of Law school showed me how strong I am and just how unhappy I can be. My decision to set that aside and pursue art shifted my focus to overcoming challenges that made me feel satisfied and even happy.
What are some of your practices of resilience? Who did you learn this from and how are these helpful in times of challenge?
I try to see the positive and to be patient with myself and others when times are difficult. We all make mistakes and should learn from them what we can, but dwelling in the negative does not help to move forward. I learned this from experience and from good friends who have been there for me through all of the worst times. When I beat myself up and questioned my worth these friends helped me to give myself space and the strength to overcome.
What are some of the things you enjoy the most in life? What keeps you inspired, re-charged and brings you joy?
I thrive in nature and often use that beauty as inspiration for my own paintings and artwork. I re-charge in quiet times – a walk in the woods, a good book, gardening.
When you think of your life journey unfolding, Who do you see yourself becoming?
I want to become an expert in community art practices – I want to know how best to serve communities and partner organizations with hands-on art-making activities geared toward specific outcome goals. As an artist, I will forever pursue learning best practices in painting, mural making, and any other medium. As a community artist, I want to learn how best to use those skills to help individuals and communities address issues, grow together and beautify their neighborhoods in ways that empower and inspire. As a non-profit grant writer, I want to learn how to tell our story in a way that shows the true value and potential of community art and of DAMA. This Amplify Madison experience will give me the opportunity to learn, hands-on, from the best in my field during our trip to Philadelphia Mural Arts. But, most importantly I will learn about other organizations here in Madison where we can develop and nurture the partnerships that are vital to the work we want to do.