It's been a very busy 2018 so far. I'm very proud to be supporting Surgeons of Hope in their efforts to bring children in Nicaragua life-saving heart surgeries. I'm finishing a new painting titled "Soul of Hope" which I will be donating for their upcoming fundraiser gala in NYC. All proceeds  from the sale will go support their next surgical expedition in Nicaragua this March. I have also pledged to donate proceeds from sales of selected prints and artworks available via eBay Charity to the cause. I invite you to check them out  and learn more about their mission to create a world in which every infant and child with a damaged heart has an equal opportunity to receive life-saving surgery.   zfmq_39894405401b0fe0f8a30b--1.jpg Fellow Artist: Please check out my latest installment of "Fellow Artists" at my blog. I talked with artist Laura Ricciardi about her thought-provoking body of work "Bedda Da Nanna" which deals with beauty, legacy and her maternal grandmother's struggle through dementia.  zfmq_201802012.png Videolog en español: Bueno, el pueblo me lo pidió y aquí finalmente les va el primero. FDLM en español por medido de algo que yo llamo Fragmentos. Sera un video diario el cual tratare de hacer cada dos semanas. Este incluirá reflexiones en mi vida de artista y fragmentos de videos de mi arte y más. Espero les guste y me envíen sus comentarios. zfmq_20180201.png    New series of works on paper: Floret 2018
   zfmq_20180129.png   Until next time. Thank you for staying in touch!


"Thank you madness,

I could not do it wihout you."

FdlM

 

Long before I discovered the visual arts, I walked around with a pack of intrusive inner voices. I always understood that they were not a part of me, but implanted in my head by traumatic experiences in my life, as child. I didn’t know how to make them go away. Ignoring them and trying to run away from them, got me into a self-destructive path and almost got me killed a couple of times. No matter what I tried to do to make them shut up, they would always resurface. Eventually, therapy, meds and a diagnosis that explained quite a lot. But I may or may not talk about that later.  Though finding counseling helped, it wasn’t till I was forced into the silence and solitude of an art studio that I began the scary task of facing them one by one. One day I began to ask myself - How do I know these voices are not just characters in a play, a short story, a poem, a song or painting?  That’s when I began to listen to them. I invited them in, despite my fear of the outcome. Eventually I learned to trust them and employ them in my work. Some of them could be very abusive, beyond what you’ve imagined the inner critic to be like. I still listened and even put in practice some the things they told me I couldn’t do, or that I lacked. This approach ignited entire art series and made open to explore. The more I work, the better it gets. It gets quieter and to my surprise, some voices have even disappeared without saying goodbye; while new ones emerge. I find myself sharing this today to face one of them actually. The one that tells me “You got no story, you’re not a writer, you didn’t even go to college, you loser. You can’t spell and nobody’s going to read your crappy blog. You’re weak for sharing this shit.” As I began to write this entry, I created an image of this enraged character pacing behind me, while saying such things. He knows that I’m no longer listening, as I continue typing to expose him. He knows that I’m winning and now he’s fading into nothingness. Should he return I will be kind enough to beat him into a work of art.





He's always anxious of what you might think of him

 

The boy knows he never meets your expectations

So he hides instead, under your tone of voice


Despite fear of judgment and resentment, he comes back again -

just in time for your grandiose recital!

 

Pale he stares and listens, with modest dreams kept inside him

Never making a connection with your intermittent existence

 

© 2002 Franck de las Mercedes


Toda la divinidad te la robaste tú.

Toda esa belleza que a otros se ha negado.
Se tropieza hoy contigo un astro
      jorobado, flacucho, débil, orejón y narizón.

Dadle algo de perfección, oh Cristo.

© 1999 Franck de las Mercedes


When I was in my 20s, art was just something I did as a pastime. As I look at what became an actual career, I couldn't have predicted all that I've done as an artist so far. I don’t even know how I've done most of it, to be honest. Even as an amateur back then, one thing eventually became clear to me: I had a gift, a point of view, something to say, and this was all worthy of sharing with the world. So I nurtured it, believed in it, affirmed it, improved it and protected it from naysayers. In my beginnings as an artist I discovered that when you know you got vision and move forward with it, the more you do with your dream the stronger resistance gets. Some may even try and throw stones in your path or grab you by the collar and try to bring you down to humiliate you. Those moments emerge to ask if your vision is still on track, or to make you see how much your dream and you have grown as a creative person. It also makes you so grateful for/towards the support of those who love you, accept you and believe in you. There's a verse I turn to, when fear, blocks, resistance or uncertainty arise. I find it as essential and vital now as I did then, when I had no clue what my vision would be or where the road would lead. It's from the book "The Courage to Create" by Rollo May: “If you do not express your own original ideas, if you do not listen to your own being, you will have betrayed yourself. Also, you will have betrayed your community in failing to make your contribution.” So no matter the times we live in, we must assert and bring forth our courage to create. Could it get any better? I believe so.





Bueno, el pueblo me lo pidió y aquí finalmente les va el primero. FDLM en español por medido de algo que yo llamo Fragmentos. Sera un video diario el cual tratare de hacer cada dos semanas. Este incluirá reflexiones en mi vida de artista y fragmentos de videos de mi arte y más. Espero les guste y me envíen sus comentarios.  


Artist Laura Ricciardi conceived her thought-provoking body of work "Bedda Da Nanna" as she witnessed her maternal grandmother struggle through dementia. This in an attempt to answer a lingering question. "If art gives form to what otherwise seems formless, inexpressible, imperceptible, how does that translate for a person whose thoughts & memories & mind & words are slowly losing form?"


When did you know you wanted to do this project?

I’ve always been drawn to projects about family & legacy. This one specifically grew out of a comment that my grandmother made while we were trying to take a selfie one day.  She saw her face on the screen and declared that she had gotten old and ugly.  It was the first time I had ever heard her say something like that, and it felt so dissonant.  I had been taking photos of her here and there, but it was in that moment that I decided to take a series of portraits, exploring beauty & aging.  It grew from there, but that was the initial impulse.

 

Was she open to do it?

She was open to having her photo taken, but the project really evolved based on her sensibilities.  My initial idea was to create these chiaroscuro portraits, like a Caravaggio painting in black-and-white photographs.  When I showed her the first few frames, she asked me why half of her face was in the dark!  I really wrestled with the question of her as a subject, and at one point, I suggested that she take my photo, and then we’d switch. I was curious about what & how she saw. She wasn’t interested in taking her own photos, but she was always willing to let me photograph her.  

 

Do you consider your grandmother an archetype? If so, which?

I don’t. I can see how she would fit into certain archetypes, but to me, she’s my Nanna.  

I think there’s always a fine line when you create work about someone you love.  How do you create something that doesn’t reduce or abstract that person?  I don’t think that referencing an archetype is necessarily reductive, so maybe the answer to this question is yes, but I am resisting the categorization.  Looking back, I can see how I used, if not exactly archetypal imagery, then at least certain constructs of beauty to comment on them. 

 

 

What memory or story did your grandmother hold on to the most?

One of the things that struck me, as her mind began to slip away, was how her hands remembered how to do certain things.  I’d often ask her to tell me her recipes, as a way of engaging her in conversation when she began to retreat.  She would forget the ingredients to the simplest recipes.  Later, she could barely get the words out, but if you gave her the dough and began doing the motion together, her hands would remember. 

 

How can young girls without a nanna discover the acknowledgement of beauty?

My Nanna cared about her outward appearance, but she didn’t fuss too much over it.  A lot of that is because she came from a time and place where there that just wasn’t the cultural norm in the way that it is today, at least here. There was an earthiness about her that was so beautiful to me.  And I think there’s something to that.  If you recognize beauty as this force of nature that exists beyond you, as something that cannot be tamed or owned or maybe even defined, it starts to become recognizable in all its variations.  That’s really what it is: to understand that beauty takes many forms.  Art plays a key role in giving shape and voice to those forms.  So in the simplest way, what I would say to young girls (and boys) is that when you recognize beauty in the world, in whatever form you see it, you recognize beauty in yourself.  They are one and the same.

 

What non-physical trait did the two of you share?

Strength in softness.  

 

Now that you see it realized as a project, what have you learned about

your own creativity?

I often have this dialectic within myself about speaking & not speaking, being seen & not seen.  A lot of my work lately has been about drawing the eye in, inviting the viewer to come closer, to notice the unnoticed, to consider what is barely perceptible. This piece is different, because it feels very declaratory.  You can see elements of the seen/unseen dynamic in it, but it feels like a new space for me.

 

The other thing, and this comes up nearly every time I make anything, but I learned that, when I am stuck, what unlocks things for me is to think about how a person will be interacting with the piece.  That’s always the key for me.  That, and allowing for cross-pollination.  I originally thought of this as a project in a gallery space.  I envisioned these giant, gorgeous prints of my grandmother.  I’d walk her into the gallery, and she would see herself as a work of art.  It’s so absurd and grandiose that this was my fantasy, but it was.  A month or so before I took the last photo – I didn’t know that it was going to be the last photo, but it turned out to be --, I was reading a book by Elaine Scarry called On Beauty and Being Just.  One of the ideas that Scarry explores is that beauty compels replication.  It made think of replication in the context of offspring & genetics, but also in the replication of image in a digital age. That’s when I started to envision someone looking at the photos not in a gallery, but on a screen, with dynamic diptych that looped through these repetitive images in different configurations.  

 

 

What was the very last photo of her that you took?

The last photo that I took that appears in this series is at the top of the “Words” section.  We were in the car, on our way to renew her passport so that she could go to Sicily.  Halfway through the ride, I looked down and realized that we had been holding hands.  The very last photo that I took of her was a selfie of the two of us on an August night in our town square in Sicily a few weeks before she passed away.

 

What can males learn from Bedda Da Nanna?

I don’t think of this specifically as a female piece, but I can see how so much of it is about womanhood.  I’ll leave it to men to decide for themselves what they get out of the project, but I do think that beauty transcends gender.  We rarely call grown men “beautiful,” but I see a lot of beauty in men.  Keats famously wrote that “beauty is truth, truth beauty.”  Truth knows no bounds. 

 

Can we expect another installment or a body of work similar to this one?

I’d love to find a way to continue this work.  One of my thoughts is to create a platform for others to do similar projects with their families, or to continue with a series of portraits that explore the grandparent-grandchild relationship in adulthood.  When I think about my creative work, I’m struck by how much of it is for or about or in some way touched by my grandparents. It’s not surprising that my impulse to create (& to send that work out into the world) grew stronger as I witnessed my maternal grandparents struggle through dementia.  Maybe the next iteration of this project is memory work with those afflicted by illnesses like dementia & Alzheimer’s.  If art gives form to what otherwise seems formless, inexpressible, imperceptible, how does that translate for a person whose thoughts & memories & mind & words are slowly losing form?

 

Check out BEDDA DA NANNA


Happy New Year!   Thank you for being a part of my journey in 2017. Your continued support and encouragement motivate me to continue making art and work hard on my mission in the coming year. You are appreciated!  Wishing you and your loved ones a 2018 filled with peace, prosperity and new opportunities to grow and succeed. zfmq_20171224105633--1.jpg   New York Expressions, a Virtual Exhibit: The Directed Art Modern is pleased to announce the launch of its first online exhibition. Following the philosophy of last year’s DAM ART ’16, the Directed Art Modern, under the direction of founders Valeray Fransisco and Melanie Prapopoulos are once again changing the game with an exhibition platform that enables the artist to exhibit and for the collector to have easy access to new and innovative exhibitions. The exhibition  showcases work by NYC's Franck de las Mercedes, Joe Ginsberg, Pablo Power, Rob Anderson, Gilbane Peck and Ashley Cunningham.   zfmq_20180101--1.png   Editor's Pick on Artnet News: The "City Limits" show in NYC was a great success and my painting "Abstract All City" was featured as Editor's Pick on Artnet News. zfmq_25507768162587450745827432769112967
  New Work: New Media Mechanism zfmq_24955204678b33c9cc2bfz--1.jpg   Talk to you next month!