Growing up in Ashland, OH, Kiana Ziegler found herself following creative pursuits despite her adolescent dreams of becoming an archeologist or geologist. When she was younger, she found herself constantly using items around her house as inspiration to draw and sew and would frequently put on random shows for her family.
Ziegler realized a creative mindset was her default. In high school, she found herself being encouraged by her teachers to do set and prop design for the school’s theater department and photography for her school’s newspaper.
Once Ziegler left for college, she decided to pursue the passion that had been calling her name for so long: art. Through the constant hesitancy to pursue art, she said her high school art teacher and one of her English teachers were two people at the forefront of her decision.
She said they both used their individuality and creativity to encourage her to try new things and were both familiar faces whenever she needed it. Through her growth of trying new things, Ziegler found herself experimenting with multiple mediums of art.
“I would definitely describe myself as an artist who has never found a home in any medium; kind of like a jack of all trades, master of none sort of situation,” Ziegler said.
Photography, fabric and textiles, printmaking and digital artwork are all mediums Ziegler has dabbled in. In her undergraduate studies, Ziegler obtained a degree in graphic design from Ashland University and has been working with different digital and electronic art mediums. Through her use of varied mediums, Ziegler has noticed an overarching similarity.
“All art kind of has central components to it,” Ziegler said. “There's a lot of, not necessarily rules, but principles that all tie or go into all of those different types of art. And really, when it comes to it, each of the different types of media, they all use those same things. They're all built on that same foundation, it’s just an entirely different skillset.”
Ziegler is currently taking a break from school but is pursuing an M.F.A. in painting and drawing at Ohio University, following her completion of a B.F.A. in fine arts and B.A. in graphic design from Ashland University.
Art has provided Ziegler with multiple opportunities to start new projects. As of now, Ziegler’s proudest project she has done is one she has currently been struggling with in recent months.
“It was one of those projects that I think just got way bigger than me,” Ziegler said. “There were so many layers to things and I'm just like, ‘Oh, gosh, I have to figure out how to share this with people.’ I never established a plan for that from the beginning. And so by the time I actually got to the point of actually presenting the information and what I have done to people, I just kind of froze up. There's so many aspects of this and it can change just based on the audience.”
The project is a collaboration with people Ziegler knows who are struggling due to a recent health diagnosis and also is her own personal narrative of being someone who has received a serious diagnosis.
For Ziegler, the whole process has been nothing less than reflective. Although it stemmed from an internal struggle, she started to incorporate other people into the conversation once she reached graduate school.
“I think people who really are going through anything just rely on other people who are going through that same thing,” Ziegler said.
Ziegler is currently working on her project and organizing the final execution. And, though her art has kept her on her toes, she would encourage others to pursue their same dreams despite the long road ahead.
As encouragement to younger students interested in pursuing art, Ziegler noted not everyone will value or perceive art the same way. There is constant consumption of art through media, for it’s not limited to galleries and museums, Ziegler said.
However, the most daunting reason in Ziegler’s opinion that many people don’t become artists is because of the discouragement they receive from others.
“I think that we're surrounded by art and rely more on art more than we think, more than society leads us to believe,” Ziegler said. “I think that is the biggest reason, or the problem is that people don't really acknowledge that, or don't value it as much as maybe it should be valued. And so that is a big thing. A lot of students are discouraged from becoming or pursuing art in any serious academic way because it is something that people are like, ‘Well, what are you going to do with it?’”
Ziegler has had to overcome the question of what she will do with her art because she knows it’s worth it in the end. She encourages students to keep an open mind and to follow their motivations and desires.
“Be strong in what you want to do,” Ziegler said. “And just take the risk and go for it.”