Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Time Line

Two weeks ago I got the mother-of-all complements: A freshman in college at DePauw University in Indiana had to do a project on an artist for her Arts & Ethics class. This included working in the style of the artist and also creating a Power Point presentation to share the artist's work with the class. She chose me! I was very flattered, and I practically fell over myself trying to help her out. She asked me to describe my career as an artist, which is a more complicated task than you might expect. I came up with a timeline, and I think it's amusing enough to share on my blog. Here 'tis:

Zilly Rosen’s Timeline of Artistic-Endeavors-and-Seemingly-Unrelated-Experiences-That–Have-All-Come-Together-in-the-End (or at least by 2008):

Birth: I was born on October 10, 1967 in Evanston, Illinois as Elizabeth Ann Frazier.

1 year old: My parents nick-named me Whizbang and simultaneously fed me lots of sugar, establishing my sweet tooth before I even had teeth. My mom says I have and have always had two speeds: fast and off.

2 years old: My mom quickly figured out that she could keep me quiet if she gave me paint and paper. She liked dressing me in an artist beret and smock!

3 years old: My parents took me to many art shows, live performances of dance and music, and always encouraged me to be creative. They encouraged my self-driven projects at home, and they always supplied me with new materials. This continued throughout my entire life, to this day.

5 years old: In Brownies, I made my caterpillar from egg cartons upside down, so that mine would be different. The troop leader knew she had an artist on her hands.

8 years old: I wanted an Easy Bake Oven for Christmas, and I didn’t get it. This was a very formative experience (see me at 15 years old)

11 years old: I asked for a subscription to Architectural Digest for Christmas. This time I got what I asked for. I also got nick-named “Zilly” by one of my new friends in 6th grade. The name stuck.

12 years old: I got a spot in the “Gifted in Art” after school program at my middle school, and I spent every afternoon after school making stuff for three years, and continued that practice into high school. There isn’t a single art medium that doesn’t interest me.

15 years old: I got a job as “cookie girl” at Ganache Bakery in Evanston, IL. Finally my grudge about not getting an easy bake oven was put to rest. I worked at Ganache for 8 Christmases in a row.

16 years old: I got a job teaching “arts and crafts” at a local summer camp. I continued to teach art at different summer camps for the next 16 years.

17 years old: I received the Conway Scholarship to study art at Washington University in St. Louis. I went in as a metalsmithing major and I came out 5 years later as a printmaking major. (I took 1 semester off to work at Ganache Bakery full-time).

22 years old: I got a job developing the curriculum and teaching the art program for 7th and 8th grade art at Whitfield School in St. Louis. I worked there for 3 years.

25 years old: I took two years off and moved back to Chicago to live with my parents. During that time, I traveled to Alaska by myself, worked as a studio assistant for a potter, worked at Ganache Bakery again, worked as a barista at a coffee shop, and took a 2 month workshop in handpainted quilts at Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina. I also payed rent on an art studio that I never made anything in; I was too busy doing all of the above.

27 years old: I moved back to St. Louis to be a live in nanny for my friends who had their first baby. I also became a triathelete and opened another studio that I didn’t make anything in, though I organized successful sales of other artist’s work.

28 years old: I applied to Washington University for a Masters of Art in Teaching in Art Education K-12. I got in with a full scholarship, but deferred for a year to take a teaching job and make some money.

29 years old: I started dating Lee Rosen, the man who I would eventually marry. I took a trip to Guatemala with my sister and got shot through the throat by bandits. I spent the next two years speaking in a whisper and having 6 surgeries on my larynx that attempted to restore my voice.

30 years old: I started working on my MAT in Art Education, part time, as I recovered from surgeries. I also took a job at my second gourmet bakery, Truffes in St. Louis. The art community in St. Louis threw me a benefit art sale and party that raised $20,000 for my surgeries!

31 years old: I did my student teaching at an Elementary School. I still had no voice, but the kids didn’t really seem to care. It was just extremely tiring.

32 years old: I got offered a job teaching art at a private Catholic girl’s high school, Villa Duchesne. They hired me to teach design, fine crafts, printmaking, sculpture, and ceramics. They didn’t care that I didn’t have a voice, and that I hadn’t quite finished my MAT. I was just a couple of papers away, so I took incompletes and took the job at Villa. I never did finish those papers!

33 years old: I got married, and change my name from Elizabeth Ann Frazier to Zilly Frazier Rosen. I also recovered some voice, so that I no longer spoke in a whisper.

34 years old: I had my first child, Eliza Mae Rosen, and dropped from full-time teaching to part-time teaching.

35 years old: My husband took a job in Buffalo, New York, and I had to quit my job and move my family away from St. Louis where I had lived for 18 years. We moved into the house where MTV filmed “Sorority Life.”

36 years old: I was a stay-at-home mom for the first time, and I stayed at home for four years. During that time I became active at the Unitarian Universalist church. Every summer for five years and counting I have written a sermon and lead a worship service during the summers when the minister is on vacation.

37 years old: I had my second child, William Myers Rosen. He weighed over 10 pounds, and broke my rib 3 days before I went into labor. I did not have a c-section, much to the amazement of just about everybody.

38 years old: I was a stay-at-home mom for my fourth and final year.

39 years old: I took a part-time job at my third gourmet bakery, Dolci in Buffalo, NY. I started working on cookies and tarts, but they eventually gave me a shot at doing the cakes. I took a few Wilton workshops at Michael’s and then started doing weddings immediately.

40 years old: I took over wedding cakes at Dolci and tripled their business in one year. I decided to start my own design business and cake school using Dolci as my bakers. I launched my website http://www.zillycakes.com/ in February, 2008, and I incorporated as Zillycakes LLC on May 22, 2008.

41 years old: Before my storefront was even open, I did a 1200+ cupcake installation of Barack Obama on Election Day. It got national attention on TV and in newspapers, and I now find myself in the incredible position of being in negotiations with the Smithsonian Institute and The Late Show with David Letterman for two separate cupcake portrait installations in 2009! My next project will be a 5,600 cupcake installation at the Smithsonian Institute on February 14, 2009 for President’s Day weekend. It’s a dual portrait of Obama and Lincoln. I still have to do a video audition for Letterman, which I will submit at the beginning of the year. I won’t have a date for that installation until after I submit my video!


Michael Cardus said...

This is great your life is so amazing and your passion for art and love come through in your cakes.
Christine and I are soo happy to have found you and look forward to eating you cup cakes at our wedding.

Great job with the blog!

Lauren said...

Year 32...what a great year, coming to villa and all. have to say you are definitley one of my teachers that inspired me to also want to teach and work with kids. hopefully i can make it up to buffalo one day and enjoy a cupcake or two with you. thanks for everything, good luck getting the store done and cant wait to see you on tv. . .lauren ritter

draza said...


I knew you in St. Louis--I was a friend of Anne Treeger. I'm in San Diego now, and I sing, and I was bummed 'cause I had to cancel a gig because of a throat/sinus thing.

And I suddenly thought of you, and I thought if I looked you up and could feel a little bit of your spirit, I would feel happy and inspired.

I was right! Love, love, love to you. Happy to have been at the benefit party on your timeline!

Draza Jansky