SDA Book Club: “Enchanted Worlds” reviewed by Vivien Zepf
March 4, 2022
Enchanted Worlds: The Visionary Collages and Art Couture of Amy Zerner by Monte Farber
I’m a little freaked out. I’m staring at page 103, at a King of Wings/The Professional Tarot card that makes me think of Shakespeare. It’s from The Enchanted Love Tarot, one of the many collaborative projects created by Amy Zerner and her husband Monte Farber discussed in the book, Enchanted Worlds: The Visionary Collages and Art Couture of Amy Zerner.
Farber’s role in their partnership is to interpret and write about Amy’s artworks. An astrologer and author of 40 books, he has suggested using Enchanted Worlds for bibliomancy, an ancient practice using books as oracles. The idea: open the book to a random page and take “the answer to your question from a mindful reading of the first words or image upon which your gaze falls.” Why not try?
Enchanted Love Tarot is about relationships and love. And here I am, thinking about Shakespeare and great romances. It seems eerily fitting that I would turn to this image while contemplating a book that’s as much about a couple as it is about an individual’s artwork. In many ways, it’s impossible to think about Zerner’s work without also thinking about her husband. She creates the imagery and he provides descriptive text; a collaboration motivated by a belief system with love at its core.
Enchanted Worlds serves as both a retrospective of Amy’s incredibly prolific art career, and as an ode to her inner spiritual life. Farber, is unabashedly smitten with his Goddess wife, but don’t think he’s unfair with his accolades. The first artist working with textiles to receive a National Endowment of the Arts grant for painting, Zerner creates luminous tapestries, many of which illustrate tarot books and card sets. She has also designed couture for Bergdorf Goodman and developed jewelry lines.
The book is a compendium of images (323 of them!) and ideas, organized to follow her career chronologically. The layout of the book allows for enough space to admire fully detailed photos of Zerner’s scrap collages, each assembled using a variety of repurposed paper or fabric and embellishments. Zerner’s art allows for unlikely influences to co-exist, such as ancient totems sitting with bits of sequins. Images form that are intriguing and complex, merging eras and philosophies.
Farber notes that Zerner receives guidance and understanding from different aspects of Tarot and oracles. As someone unfamiliar with this practice, there were moments in the book which lack context. I wish there were an appendix so I might have a better understanding of Zerner‘s intent or the final imagery. (I’d like to know more about some of the goddesses, too.) Thankfully, the photos which accompany the text are luscious and clear, with enough detail to help me appreciate the art and develop my own responses to it.
In the process of reading I compiled a partial list of keywords–alchemy, mysticism, intuition, spirituality–that reads more like snippets of a fantasy novel, rather than some of the foundational elements and influences in Zerner’s contemporary creative practice. However, the words ring true. I recommend this book to anyone looking for a glimpse into the fascinating life of an accomplished artist and designer, a life sprinkled with magic.
–Viven Zepf | vivienzepf.com
- Publisher: Schiffer Publishing (buy it here)
- Date: November 2021
If you’ve read this book, leave a comment and let us know what you think!
Do you have a recommendation for a recent fiber-related book you think should be included in SDA’s Book Club? Email SDA’s Managing Editor, Lauren Sinner, to let her know!