I met Federica Gonnelli in person when she arrived at F_AIR - Florence Artist In Residence for an artist talk, scheduled the week before the opening of her solo show. The talk started with the definition of white, as a color and expression, as it morphed into Di Punto in Bianco, Tutto D’un Tratto, Improvvisamente. As the artist began her talk she seemed anxious, perhaps nervous about speaking to many young, mostly American, adults. This anxiety dissolved as she divulged into her story and artwork, it was obvious that the passion she has for her work is rich.
White is the protagonist in most of Federica’s works, and it dominates the scenes of this latest enterprise at F_AIR. She uses materials such as wool, paper, wood, and printing techniques similar to silkscreen. Most noticeably is the use of transparent fabrics to veil her works. It began with the veil-like material symbolizing a dress, which frames her work like it would a body; each of her pieces are a new identity that must breathe. Later, it morphed into the concept that the veil was hiding something, or was a cover. This created the consequence that the spectator had to move closer to the work, to stop, appreciate, and ponder the works behind the veil. The message was intentional; that this fast-paced society does not take time to appreciate, which is necessary in life, but also with her works.
Federica conveys similar messages by means of other media and materials, such as lights and projections. In fact, she has researched the concepts of light, as it opens the eyes and unveils what is hidden. She is also attracted by the element of water, and by the power of meaningful signs and objects, such as the relics: each relic has an identity, a memory that expands the artworks message.
While trying to describe and define some of her works, Federica was revealing her own journey as an artist. She commended her schooling, here in Florence, in that she was able to experience and study at her own pace. She noted that students must be taught, but should find their own way to learn and should not be forced. Telling stories of her inspiration through events, images or ideas, Federica elaborated that her works are influenced by the relationship between body and nature, as well as memory and contemporary issues with the environment. Her works range from simple to complicated, or elaborate, in meaning.
At the conclusion of the artist talk Federica Gonnelli was somewhat mentally and emotionally exposed. The ability to open herself up through discussing art is admirable, and very appreciated by myself, the other students, and anyone who took the time to see her exhibit in the following days.