2021: A Year of Experiments and Growth
Every year, on December 31st, I like to reflect on the past year. This morning I picked up my phone, and I started going through my camera roll. Before looking at the pictures, I did not realize how much I actually did, despite the obstacles I had to face this year.
The Beginning of The Year
In January, my husband finally opened his first smoothie shop. Of course, I had to create an artwork that would perfectly fit the theme and vibe of the shop. I decided to make this 5 by 8 feet painting that is still hanging at the shop.
A couple of days later, I started my last semester at USF. There was a lot of stress in the air due to the pandemic, online classes, and having to prepare a thesis show in only two months. Due to the restrictions, we had to anticipate the thesis show to March, instead of May. This meant that I had to start and finish all my paintings in less than two months. It has been a great experience, with so many different emotions: fear, stress, joy, excitement, and tears.
At the same time, other than working on my thesis paintings, I was attending other classes. Sculpture was one of my favorites. 3D work is so much different than 2D: challenging, but also very engaging for the viewer. This year, instead of building sculptures out of wood or metal, I decided to work from found objects. For this sculpture, I used two suitcases, did some work inside of them, and placed them on a wood table I built.
After 60 stressful days, I finished the paintings for my thesis show. It was my very first show in which I exhibited so many large paintings. It has been wonderful taking my family and friends to the show.
Graduation and First Shows outside of school
On May 8th, I finally graduated. I felt accomplished and proud of myself, not only for finishing school and obtaining a degree, but mostly for sticking to art school, to my talent and passion. It is easy to give up on art, because "what are you going to do with an art degree?". I love art, and I adore painting, and I will for sure do something with it!
As soon as I graduated, I was invited to participate to a female only exhibition curated by Niche Art Collective. My Nude Collection perfectly fit the theme, since it involves the concepts of body positivity, female empowerment and self love.
Summer 2021 marked the beginning of my art journey without any kind of guidance. I wanted to start experimenting, and doing projects that I had on my mind that I have been holding off for a long time. Painting at the beach was one of these things.
I must say it was a pretty hot and busy day, but I loved interacting with the people stopping by. I ended up having to finish the piece at home later, but it is definitely something I would love to do on a monthly basis.
In June, I decided to visit my best friend, who recently moved to Chicago. I begged her to take me to the Art Institute of Chicago. I got to see so many 2oth century artists that I love, such as Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock and David Hockney.
New Works and Commissions
As previously mentioned, since I no longer had class projects, I decided to work on my own ideas. I started a couple of new pieces that I am still working on. This piece would be the evolution on my home series, focusing on my private life and journey as a woman in the 21st century.
Other than big paintings, that require a lot of time and effort, I also made smaller ones to which everyone could relate to.
In 2021, I have also worked on the biggest and most challenging commission I have ever done. I met this gentleman, Mark, at my husband's shop, and he immediately told me he had been wanting to find an artist that would make him a painting he had in mind for a long time.
The whole process took a couple of months; there has been a lot of back and forth between us. I wanted to make sure I would make his wish come true. Mark wanted a smiling Jesus surrounded by kids. In October, I finally delivered and hanged the painting in his house. Mark was really happy, and so was I.
Ashley Rivers, my dear friend and classmate, has a studio at the Factory in St. Petersburg, and she is also a grantee for this year's Creative Pinellas EAG. Ashley has been amazing in organizing shows and events that would include emerging artists in the Tampa Bay area, like me.
I have participated to The Factory Exhibition with 9 paintings of my Nude Collection. Since there have been three or more events during these shows, I had the change to meet people and talk about my work with them.
At The Factory, I had the chance to participate to a live painting event and to my very first artist panel! What an opportunity!
Trip to Italy
Finally, after two long years, I was able to go see my family in Italy. It has been refreshing to see my family, enjoy the food, and the snow.
My grandma, my number 1 fan, begged me to bring her one of her favorite paintings I ever made, which is a portrait of my brother. She was able to get it framed and hanged in her house while I was there. I am extremely grateful for my family, and their support in this journey.
I am so glad this morning I decided to take a look at this year's photos. I did not feel very good about this year, because of all the obstacles I had to face. Obstacles I did not photograph, but that are stuck in my head. However, after looking back, there has been so many wonderful things I am extremely grateful for.
Thank you 2021, and I wish everyone a happy 2022!