Ally Zlatar From the United Kingdom is OD Young Person of the Month for February 2022!
Welcome to February!
Our Young Person of the Month is Ally Zlatar from the United Kingdom! Ally Zlatar is an artist, activist, and academic. She is the Founder of The Starving Artist, which is an artist initiative that helps broaden perspectives on Eating Disorders and Mental Illness through the artistic voice. She also founded The Starving Artist Scholarship Fund which helps people access inpatient treatment for eating disorders.
Ally Zlatar has received the highest accolade a young person can achieve for their humanitarian work; The Princess Diana Legacy Award (2021) and also special recognition from The British Citizen Award (2022). She holds a BFA in Visual Art & Art History from Queen’s University & an MLitt Curatorial Practice and Contemporary Art from the Glasgow School of Art. Her Doctorate of Creative Arts is with the University of Southern Queensland focusing on embodied experiences of eating disorders in contemporary art. Zlatar is a Lecturer at the University of Glasgow (Anderson College, GIC), KICL London, and University of Essex (UEIC).
Read her amazing story below and be inspired!
Ally Zlatar is the founder of The Starving Artist, which is an artist initiative that helps broaden perspectives on Eating Disorders and Mental Illness through the artistic voice. She also founded The Starving Artist Scholarship Fund which helps people access inpatient treatment for eating disorders. Her “This Body of Mine” campaign explores the female migrant experiences from displaced backgrounds and has helped support over 50 international female artists from refugee-seeking backgrounds.
Ally Zlatar examines, instigates, and provokes notions of the individual experience through focusing on the themes of illness, vulnerability, and authenticity of one’s lived-in experience. She utilizes an auto-ethnographic approach to her contemporary figurative painting. Zlatar explores her personal narratives and life experiences to guide her exploration of self-identity and self-perception in our modern discourse.
Ally acknowledges power within the un-well body and believes there is tremendous value and potency by examining it through the contemporary art lens. Zlatar uses her work as a form of art activism to continuously interpret, communicate and facilitate discourse to make a difference in society.
On How She Began
For quite a long time, Ally thought if she was thinner, she would be happier. Instead, quite the opposite occurred, and she became confined to her body. While her eating disorder began at the age of 13, she was formerly diagnosed with Anorexia. Since then, Ally developed a deeply rooted mentally complex distorted relationship with eating and body image.
In her work, she shares that the central problem is that our scientific understanding of eating disorders focuses too much on the external physical ramifications of the illness, but rather there is a need to examine the internalized psychological and emotional struggles that herself and many others have experienced. She strives to capture the reality of living with these complex issues and tries to do so in the most vulnerable and authentic way she can which is through visual art.
On Her Successes
The impact of Ally Zlatar’s work has been immense. She believes her work has impacted over 100,000 lives. She has seen firsthand how the diversity of projects has impacted the lives of people directly. For instance, Ally created three books that explored artists with eating disorders sharing their voice, and the publication has sold over 500 copies (in over 30 universities worldwide), and they have done over 10 exhibitions which have on average 300- 2000 visitors.
As an artist-activist, Ally believes that art can make a direct impact in society, and she aims to particularly assist eating disorder sufferers. Sales from her artist book, exhibitions, and donations help fund The Starving Artist Scholarship, which is a charity she started in 2018 that offers financial assistance to individuals who are seeking inpatient programs but are in financial need. She has raised funds and helped the lives of eating-disordered individuals directly. The work helps create authentic awareness and contributes directly to positively impacting people’s wellbeing through activist endeavors such as the Scholarship Fund, exhibitions, public talks, and awareness campaigns.
On Her Obstacles and Future Plans
Often, institutions shy away from sensitive subjects such as eating disorders and mental health. This has proved to be an obstacle for Ally Zlatar, which is exactly why she believes we need to address them. She tries her best to find organizations and individuals who are a good fit to work on the projects which requires persistence at times to find a compatible partner/ collaboration. Additionally, the more traction the work gets, it helps reaffirm the importance of her work which has helped give it a pedestal to stand on and helped validate the work through the industry.
Ally’s future plans are to continue doing the work she does (which terms are a lot). She has plans to work on Exhibitions in Asia, Central America, and Europe for 2022/2023. She has a couple of artist residencies and publications on the go as well. Additionally, this year Ally is focusing on engaging more with in-patient treatment teams and helping them improve the quality of care for recovery.
Her Words of Advice for the Youth
“Always stay true to who you are. When trying to make an impact, it is important that you create work that is reflective of who you are and what you believe in. When it’s genuine and filled with passion, people will engage.”
Learn more about her work on her website.
Who will be the next Young Person of the Month?
You can be the next Opportunity Desk Young Person of the Month! All you have to do is get a friend to recommend your work or fill out the nomination form here. We want to use the platform to recognize and celebrate the efforts of amazing young people around the world. Oh! And you must be an active Opportunity Desk member, either as a fan, reader, or subscriber! Share!