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Caroline Z. Hurley

When Caroline Zucchero Hurley went to Bali with a bunch of art-school friends in 2011, she knew the island’s gorgeous colors would influence her abstract paintings. But the trip also ended up inspiring her in a completely unexpected way. “We had a craft table where we would gather every night, and I found myself making these block-printed textile things,” the 30-year-old says.

It turned out to be a perfect extension of the Memphis native’s particular brand of painting, and her textiles—think melon throws with black bars or crimson blankets with hot pink triangles, all made of super-absorbent Italian linen—are a lot like her abstract art: colorful, spare, and exuberant. “I teach pre-school part-time, and I’m really inspired by the projects we do in the classroom,” she explains. “It’s great because I come to the studio after work, and I’m in this really playful mood after throwing glitter around and cutting simple shapes all morning. It really puts me in the right mindset to do all my work.”

She also, by the way, makes pretty rad necklaces out of painted pasta and devotes some time to an indie film company she and her friends founded in Los Angeles. How does she keep up with it all? “I don’t really distinguish between my paintings and my products, my teaching and my art,” she says with a shrug. “It’s all about having fun and expressing yourself.” —raquel laneri