For the last few years, local artist Zach Gilliland has been playing catch-up. The Pennsylvania native and U.S. Air Force veteran has pursued a lot of career options in his life, but it wasn't until recently that he returned to one of his original passions — art.
"I had gone through so many phases in my life and in my mid 20s," he says."Everything I tried doing, my heart just wasn't in it. When I went back to school the second time and one of my soccer buddies invited me to hang out in his ceramics class, there was that "aha moment," where I thought, 'Oh my God; this is where I'm supposed to be.'"
Since then, Gilliland says he's hit the ground running, working as often as he can and exploring as many artistic outlets as possible. He studied ceramics but quickly moved on to painting, encaustic painting and eventually sculpture.
"I'm definitely most comfortable with 3D work," he says. "Sculpture is just kind of my comfy zone. I like the organic process I go through while I'm creating something. I want things to look simple at first sight, but actually be rather complex when you get down into it and spend some time with the work."
A lot of his work explores the topics such as growth and transition, a topic most clearly displayed in his piece, "Broke Down Palace," which was recently exhibited at Ringling Underground.
Above all, Gilliland says he's happy to have found his passion.
"I'm just calm when I'm making something," he says. "It doesn't matter what it is. As long as I'm working and using my hands, I'm calm and happy, and I feel like I'm at home."