The ideas of the Renaissance masters was not to continue repeating the same ideas and methods but rather to continue pushing forward and create the new and unexpected and to challenge the perception of what art is while paying tribute to those that came before them. Contemporary art aims to push the boundaries of these accepted ideas and move away from the past to create the present. With this in mind, I will be conducting a series of interviews here on my blog to highlight the artists, designers and creative minds of present day Florence
In conjunction with our facebook group Creative People in Florence, I will be conducting these interviews with our group members. In the coming months I hope to be able to interview each member who is currently living in Florence as a way of highlighting their wide range of talents. The questions will be exactly the same for each artist/designer and creative person, what is fascinating are the similarities as well as the differences in the answers.
Tell us a little bit about yourself:
I grew up in Michigan, where I spent my summers camping in the U.P., collecting rocks on the beach and seed pods in the woods. This is where my love of nature was born. I could spend hours examining the things I collected, studying all the tiny little details. It amazed me how the littlest things in nature could be so beautiful and intricate. So complex that it makes you realize everything has its purpose.
Art has always been my life. I can't live without creating with my hands. My passion for art started with clay. I graduated with a B.F.A in sculpture in Michigan at Adrian College I then furthered my studies at Alfred University in New York and at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Maine. And then I decided to study in Italy where I fell in love with jewelry making.
Why did you choose Florence or did Florence choose you?
It was definitely destiny that brought me to Florence. After university and working for a few years in a job that had nothing to do with my degree I decided it was time to get back into what I really loved. So I went back to the university to have a talk with my favorite professor for guidance. While walking the halls to her office I saw a poster for a school in Florence, and it was like in the movies when a ray of sunshine comes down in that exact spot and you hear that revelation music. I knew at the moment that I needed to go to Florence. Just after a week of being here I met my husband, and what was supposed to be an 8-month stay turned into 10 years. So yes I think Florence chose me...
Palazzo Vecchio, where I married my soul mate (I know pretty cheesy) but it really marks when and where I finally felt I had a place in this country. It is where I finally found a true sense of belonging. Besides that fact that it’s absolutely gorgeous and inspiring inside and out, and I created our wedding rings from designs found inside.
Was there a defining moment when you knew that you wanted to be an artist? If so when and what was it?
I still remember the first piece of art I created that really impacted me was when I was probably 6 when I did a drawing of a unicorn, (give me a break, it was the 80's..) but the moment when I knew I wanted to be an artist was when I first sunk my hands into clay in high school. From that moment on all other dreams flew out the window and I knew that art would be my path.
What or who is your greatest inspiration and why?
My number one greatest inspiration is Mother Nature. We can only attempt to create something as amazing as what you find in nature. Every thing down to the tiniest cell has a purpose and an awe-inspiring beauty that man can never come close to. The deeper you look into even the tiniest leaf, the more you can see the intricate detail, the purpose and the order in everything nature creates.
My other inspirations are historic ornament and architecture, which tend to be modeled after things found in nature. Wandering around Florence and other European cities looking at all the details on church ceilings, iron gates and palazzo walls really impact my work a lot. My latest obsession is with old religious relics and reliquary, and Victorian mourning jewelry.
Jewelry can be so personal and sacred, something to be cherished and passed down, usually associated with love, promises and memories. The best part of being an artist is creating something that I hope will one day take on meaning to someone else and come to signify a special moment, feeling or person in their life.
The hardest thing about being an artist is having to put a price on your art. Figuring out how much your time and talent is worth is not an easy thing to do, and something I'm still working on.
What message do you hope to convey with your art/creative process?
Well I think I have already answered this more or less, but I try to celebrate the minute beauty of life and nature and all its intricacies, and hope that it reminds you to appreciate the "thousands of joys" that are hidden in nature.
What is art/design to you? How would you define art?
This is a hard question, one which I argue about with my husband a lot. I think my definition of art would be something which evokes a feeling and or emotion.
Do you listen to music when you work? If so who or what?
Absolutely! I never work without music. My taste is very eclectic and changes with my mood, but most often it's either big band/jazz or Cajun.
If you could go back in time 10 years knowing everything that you know now what would you change and why? Or what would you tell yourself?
My biggest and only regret would be having to borrow so much in school loans, something which will take me the rest of my life to pay back. But I try to remember that if I hadn't, I wouldn't have found my passion in jewelry making and I wouldn't have found that certain man. I believe everything happens for a reason.
How have your two cultures affected your work?
Moving from the Mitten to the Boot has made my love for nature and my love of historic ornament all come to together and make sense. Being in the heart of the Renaissance where their obsession with the details of nature covers every door, window and ceiling, helped me connect the two together.
Who is your favorite artist/designer/writer/performer?
I am absolutely awestruck by Andy Goldsworthy's work
What is your favorite movie?
Favorite movie of all time is definitely Willy Wonka and the chocolate factory,(the original!) when I was kid every time I opened a candy bar I would pretend to find a golden ticket and dance around. I still do it sometimes...
What is your favorite book?
It's hard to choose as you'll never find me without one in my hand, but just to name a few: A Handmaid's Tale, A Fine Balance, and Wuthering heights
Describe yourself in five words.
I love to travel and take weekend trips to the endless beautiful spots in Italy. Or I am outside walking in the woods, by the sea or in the mountains, to get outside in nature as much as possible. I also love going to antique markets, as I'm always searching for an old treasure with a story, and I love to cook.
If you could go anywhere in the world where would it be?
Morocco or India
Is there anything else that you want people to know about you?
If there is water near, you can find me in it. Whether it's a bathtub or a lake, hot or cold, I love to swim! For many years as a kid I truly believed I was a mermaid and would spend hours in the bathtub flipping my tail. Needless to say it was a real shock when I finally realized I was just a girl with legs.
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