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Eric Zippe


picture of Eric Zippe

Visual Arts: Photography

By: Gail Obenreder

“I took a photography class at state 4-H camp. The instant the image came up in the developer, I was hooked!”

Throughout a busy professional career, Eric Zippe has traveled and worked as an event photographer nationwide. But he has lived in Delaware all his life. The artist was raised near Clayton in southern New Castle County, working on the family farm and involved with area 4-H Clubs, whose motto is to “Make the Best, Better.” And that’s certainly what they did for Zippe.

After his first 4-H camp class, he participated in several national 4-H workshops that partnered aspiring young photographers with professionals, and those sessions “solidified the foundations of my creative vision.” His mother Helen and father Ernst also encouraged creativity – “my sister and I never lacked for art supplies” – and they regularly visited art museums in the region and when travelling.

Zippe earned his BFA in Fine Arts with a concentration in photography at the University of Delaware and has been a professional in that field since the early 90s. He’s participated in 28 group shows and had five solo exhibitions, and he’s also served as a mentor and teacher, remembering how early encouragement set him on his career path. Eric expresses gratitude to Arthur Meyerson, Robert Llewellyn, John Weiss, Peter Croydon, and Priscilla Smith for imparting wisdom on his journey in photography.

photograph showing blue shapes with rust
“Texture and Patina Equivalent 2,” 2019, photography printed on fine art paper, 16 x 20 inches
image of shades of tan and brown
“Texture and Patina Equivalent 4,” 2019, photography printed on fine art paper, 16 x 20 inches
images of brown and bluish grays
“Texture and Patina Equivalent 7,” 2019, photography printed on fine art paper, 16 x 20 inches

To hone his vision, Zippe is continually inspired by peers and “notable Delaware photographer Kevin Fleming” (who grew up in the same town). But he also finds inspiration by studying the work and practices of those in other media – painters, sculptors, crafters, dancers. “I look at their creative process and see what I can learn and apply to mine.”

Zippe finds, though, that there are challenges in this cross-media study. He notes that “painting and drawing are additive mediums,” where artists add to their original compositions. He sees his photography practice as “a subtractive method of expression, where I distill what I see and eliminate.”

For his Fellowship submission – the pigmented prints series “Texture and Patina Equivalents” – the artist photographed nonrepresentational images that experienced a “significant passage of time and attrition.” Relying heavily on the use of found locations, Zippe photographs things that would “normally go unnoticed” and imbues them with an abstract quality, seeking to “empathetically impart thoughts and emotions” with the concept of Equivalent Photography.

Grateful to patrons statewide, Zippe lauds the Division for “all they do to promote arts and artists in Delaware.” He’s honored to be recognized as an established First State artist and will use his award to increase his online presence and digitize his image archive. But he also hopes to expand his practice from two-dimensional to three-dimensional work, using combinations of his imagery and his studies of “additive and subtractive printing processes.”

Zippe is rewarded by creating photographs and by viewer response to his work. And “since I do for a living what many people do for a hobby,” he finds relaxation in cooking and as a “huge fan” and practitioner of various martial arts. During the pandemic, when personal interaction was shut down, he used the time to “tie up loose ends and finish old projects.” But the busy artist is eagerly waiting to “devote my full energies to creation once we open back up again.”

Artist website: www.ezippe.art.com

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