We had the good fortune of connecting with Aneesa Shami Zizzo and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Aneesa, every day, we about how much execution matters, but we think ideas matter as well. How did you come up with the idea for your business?
Studio 203 started as a daydream that we talked about one night over dinner. It was time for us to find a larger studio space so we could host our own art classes, create larger artwork and work on future projects. There was an empty commercial suite in a building near where we live, and we asked the building manager if there were any plans for the space. It had been gutted by the previous tenant, all the way down to the subfloor and studs, but it was a huge space and had so much potential. We worked with the building’s contractor to renovate the space, and as the studio slowly transformed, we knew we wanted to share this space with others and create programming for our community. We’ve collaborated with several folks since opening to the public in February 2020, including Helms Bakery District, Textile Arts | Los Angeles, Fannie Sinclair, Lost Hat Media and several local artists. It is important to us that we offer thoughtful content for our community; our main goal is to support other artists and share interesting art. Our business is still very young, but we hope to continue to create exhibitions and events that are meaningful to us and our collaborators in the coming months.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Repurposing material is an important part of my practice, and textiles speak to me the most. Currently, I am working with fabric samples from a local design firm in Los Angeles, and use traditional applique techniques to mimic the informal look of collage. Referencing my first trip to Lebanon, I depict specific historical sites and blend them with imagery from Islamic folklore. These abstracted landscapes have formed a new, personal mythos, combining my memories with illustrations of angels, jinn, and the imaginal realm they live in. Each piece speaks to a larger understanding that we are all fundamentally human. I try to utilize universal themes that the viewer can connect with by referencing the sublime, drawing on world mythologies and sharing an otherworldly sense of the human conscious and subconscious. I want to connect with others on a visceral level through the use of formal elements: movement, color, and form. I hope my work evokes a larger understanding that we are all human and we are all connected. I hold Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees in both Fiber and Art History from the Kansas City Art Institute. I was the Textile Arts | Los Angeles AIR at Helms Design Center in 2018, and was a Fellow for the Mildred’s Lane Attention Labs: Order of the Third Bird in 2015. My work has been exhibited nationally in galleries and museums, including the Torrance Art Museum in Torrance, CA and the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art in San Luis Obispo, CA. Recently, I created costumes for Planet City (2020), directed by Liam Young, which is currently on view at the NGV Triennial 2020 in Melbourne, Australia. I am also the co-owner and director of Studio 203, which I run with my husband Grant Zizzo. We love collaborating with fellow artists, and have hosted a few exhibitions, online workshops and events for our community.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
We’re originally from Kansas City, so when family or friends come to visit, the beach is always at the top of the list. Our first apartment in L.A. was near LAX, which made it easy to pop over to Manhattan Beach and walk along The Strand. We love bringing people there. Currently, we live in Palms and have enjoyed trying all the restaurants in the area. Our favorite local restaurant has to be Shikibu or Madre Restaurant, with Kogi BBQ as a close second. We love going to museums, and would probably spend an entire day at the Huntington or LACMA. The Wende Museum is a short walk from where we live, and we love everything they’ve curated, so that would probably be on the list as well. Not to mention Craft Contemporary, the Hammer Museum, and the Petersen Automotive Museum!

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
So many people have helped us on our journey, but the main person we’d like to Shoutout is fellow artist and curator, Cameron Taylor-Brown. She was one of the first people we met when we moved to L.A., and has been instrumental in connecting us with the local art scene and our current community. We’ve worked together on several projects, including a solo exhibition of her new work at Studio 203 last September. Her mentorship and support throughout the years has been invaluable to us and our business!

Website: https://www.thestudio203.org/

Instagram: @thestudio203

Other: https://www.aneesashami.com/

Image Credits
Emily Haring

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