Living local is important to us in so many ways, whether it’s embodied through the friendships we’ve cultivated over the years, or the partnerships we’ve fostered, or the community events we’ve been a part of. And when it really comes down to it, we’re more than just a food brand — we love music, wellness, design, travel, creativity.
So as we were preparing to open our Silver Spring location a few months ago, we knew we wanted to take that passion for local and infuse it directly into our space. We originally became familiar with local artist Terry Sitz as she had been incorporating our to-go bags into her mixed-media works for some time. We got in touch because we were drawn to her dynamic, colorful, layered aesthetic. She created a collection of one-of-a-kind pieces for our Silver Spring location, and we knew we wanted to sit down with her to learn more — about her story, about her process, about her work, about her life.
What first drew you to CAVA’s materials?
Honestly, I was just eating there a lot. The graphic elements of CAVA’s to-go bag were so strong that I kept gravitating toward it. It had this kind of industrial, strong feel, and that’s a feeling I like to have in my work. There’s an emotional solidness about them, and there’s a positivity, and that just felt like it was a natural segue. I liked putting something there that related to a company and organization that I liked.
How did you get started as an artist?
I think I fell in love with art when I was 3 years old.
I was always coloring, and I would get those boxes of Crayola 64-pack boxes and think it was the best thing in the world to have all the colors.
My mom used to paint, and my dad was a woodworker, so art was always a big part of what I did. When I went to college, I wound up getting my degree in communications, and yet art was always still there in the background.
I originally started with pencil drawings, but as my kids grew up, I started trying different things and mediums, and I ended up working in glass mosaics. Then I evolved from mosaics to fused glass — but I was frustrated. It was slow, and I wanted to be spontaneous. Then I started working in paper and thought, “Oh, with paper I can cut really quickly, I can have an immediate response to what is going on inside me.” At some point, I was at the Torpedo Factory looking at some abstract work, and I just really loved it. I had never thought of going abstract previously, but I started considering it.
About three years ago, I said, “I want to put other things into these works.” I was finding old maps, I was finding old sewing patterns, and I loved the history that came with putting some of that into my work. It just started collecting. The CAVA bags came along, and I’m kind of open to where it all goes. Mixed media feels really great.
Where do you look for inspiration? What’s your process?
It’s really about what’s coming from inside of me. Sometimes I’ll just sketch and see what comes out. And then I’ll paint whatever it is I sketch. I don’t set a certain time or framework around my art. Sometimes I’ll go a day or a week without painting, and I’ll get into the studio and I can’t wait. And sometimes I am really struggling with something, like I’m feeling upset or angry, and I go in there and it helps to move those feelings forward. None of it is really preplanned. It’s kind of a mysterious process but it’s wonderful.
Do you let anyone see your work when it’s still in progress?
I often will text pictures to my daughters, because they’ll have feedback. Sometimes I post photos online while I’m creating — I find it tricky, because sometimes it’s like, “I love this, but it’s not finished.”
I actually took a painting the other day that I did two years ago, and I redid the entire thing — and I put both up on social media. There’s a vulnerability in doing that; it’s bearing your soul and you’re not quite sure where it’s all going. But I’ll put it out there sometimes and show my process.
How do you bring in your philosophical approach to your work and where does it come from?
I started doing yoga six years ago. I originally started going it to strengthen my spine and for flexibility, but what I found was that stuff just started pouring out of me creatively. Mindfulness and some of that more peaceful side — I’m not always a very patient person, but the yoga has really helped that grow in me, which has then translated to my art. It’s a good balance.
What have you learned through your evolution as an artist?
Every artist feels insecurity about their work, and that’s normal. I used to think that you had to have it all together. But I don’t know if it ever really comes together. Creatives — visual artists, writers, filmmakers, athletes, dancers — I find them to be such kind and generous people, and over time I’ve found that when I talk to other artists, there’s a real sharing that takes place and it’s really helpful. I think having people in the community to share with makes a big difference.
The other thing I’ve definitely learned a lot about is trusting your gut — trusting the process and not trying to direct it. Let it unfold and let yourself be free enough for it to happen.
Have you experienced criticism?
I was rejected from something just the other day, and it stung. I let myself for that day feel bad about it, and I let it flow through me, and then I was okay. But it’s hard. I grew up with a dad that was fairly critical of my work. He was an engineer and wanted to make sure my lines were always parallel — but I don’t like straight lines, everything has to be a little wild and wacky. So I’m sensitive to the criticism but I’m learning to try and shut those voices off a little bit. I’ve gotten to a point where I feel pretty confident in what I do even while everyone’s tastes are different.
What has been your proudest moment?
I don’t know if I can pick one. It means a lot to me when someone says that my work touches their heart, or when someone has an emotional reaction to my work.
Art is kind of like visual poetry. It feels like a feast, and that’s why I’m drawn to connecting food with art.
I feel like if people really love their food and open their eyes, there’s really something to feast on visually as well as in terms of taste.
What draws you to food and to CAVA?
I like things that aren’t too complicated. I like that when I don’t feel like cooking but I still want something healthy, I can come to CAVA and there’s such a great combination of simplicity and purity, but without sacrificing flavor — everything is really delicious.
Does travel or global awareness play into your work at all?
When I travel, I always want to collect things. My daughter was studying in Prague a couple years ago, and I have a lot of Czech text in my work now. I also put a lot of maps into my work.
We were actually in Prague for the country’s 25th anniversary of freedom from communism, and it was such a celebration. It was beautiful, and I actually did end up making a piece when I came back that really spoke to me. There really was such a difference in the Czech people, and to be able to bring that into my work — the humbleness and the embracing of freedom — was empowering.
I’m just always collecting. If I’m in a cool restaurant or hotel and if I bring something with me, it’s not collecting soap or robes, it’s me saying, “I want a card from there!” Because that lives in my art.
What does having your work in CAVA’s Silver Spring location mean to you?
I really love having more people see my work. It was so fun creating those pieces. I had never done something before where I was asked to work with certain colors or a certain style, so the idea of a commission piece was new to me.
It was really fun! I just kind of went with it. And ultimately, the pieces feel very synergistic with what you guys have created in that space. So that feels really good.
What is your go to Cava order?
I have to have it all. Supergreens and black lentils with traditional hummus, red pepper hummus, and tzatziki. And then I’ll have half chicken and half roasted veggies. Lots of pickled onions, then tomato and cucumber, quinoa tabbouleh, feta, and olives. I don’t put dressing on my bowl — I like to just taste the dips.