Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Milisa Galazzi: Artist Interview—Part 2

Paper Lace and Embroidery Lace on Galazzi's "Thinking Wall"

LH: Did you receive any formal art training? If yes, where and what did you major in?

MG: I have a lot of formal art training. I was always the arty kid and by 10th grade I was finished with all of the art classes offered at my local high school. Having exhausted my public school art education, I convinced my parents to let me go to private boarding school. I received a substantial scholarship and entered Phillips Academy in the fall of 1981. 
The Addison Gallery of American Art is on the Andover campus – in fact, my painting studio had a door which lead directly from my easel into the heart of the gallery. Whenever I got stuck on my art, I walked into the gallery and studied the paintings by Cassatt, Homer, and many others. I took all of the art classes I could: printmaking, sculpture, photo etching, photography, design, painting, and ceramics. My senior year of High School, I studied with Elaine Spatz-Rabinowitz who is a fantastic painter. She told us to go get a great liberal arts education, learn as much as we could about everything and go live for a while. 

After that, she said, we might have something to say in our art! So instead of getting a BFA, I went to Brown University and received a BA. I majored in Studio Art and minored in Women’s Studies and Cultural Anthropology (see Gloria Steinem above!). I took papermaking, color theory, and printmaking at Brown, and also took undergraduate classes at Rhode Island School of Design in ceramics and graphic design.

Milisa Galazzi: thread/text/time at the Blizard Gallery
Springfield College in February-March of 2010.

I spent my junior year in Florence, Italy and studied for 7 months in classes at Studio Art Centers International (SACI). I embraced painting restoration, drawing, photography, ceramics, and, of course, art history. After college, I spent a summer studying Graphic Design through Yale University in Brissago, Switzerland. There I worked under the watchful eyes of Armin Hoffman and Paul Rand who themselves studied at the Bauhaus and were contemporaries of Joseph Albers and other great designers.

After nearly a decade working, including a three year stint teaching art at a private boarding school in New Hampshire, and working as the Director of Education at an Inner City Arts Education Program called MARWEN in Chicago, I returned to Rhode Island, where I earned a master’s degree from Rhode Island School of Design – an MA in Art Education where I focused on Evaluation and Assessment of Community Based Art Education Programs. I studied a qualitative means to measure the educational effectiveness of art education programs. (A portion of my thesis is published in “Another Safe Haven,” Harvard University Press.) I learned this assessment tool with a group of researchers at Harvard Project Zero which is an educational think tank that studies creativity and education. 

I also took studio classes as a graduate student at RISD, one of which was “Finding Form and Inspiration,” taught by Christina Bertoni, the Dean of the Graduate Program. This class most directly informs my studio work today. In this course, I first made art with lace, threads, fibers, and old dress patterns, etc. Other than this class, I think that my undergraduate degree from Brown in art, women’s studies, and anthropology most directly informs my present artwork.

Threads of Time #1Wax, Oil on Birch, 2011

LH: Are you involved with any arts groups or communities? If yes, what do you gain from that affiliation and what do you contribute to it?

MG: I have 3 groups I am connected to presently and one group I started in 1999 which no longer exists. I am a member of New England Wax which is a group of about 30 artists from the New England states who all work with wax in some form. I am the only member of NEW from Rhode Island. I am also a relatively new member of the Surface Design Association of Massachusetts and Rhode Island. I have an online presence on both the SDA and NEW websites.

Chaos to Clarity
Wax, Oil, on Birch, 2011

The third group I am involved in is an informal and very personal group comprised of 3 female artists. Every Tuesday evening, my two art-buddies (one is a ceramicist and one a photographer – both teach art) and I go to Yoga in my neighborhood. After class, we bomb back to my kitchen and have popcorn and tea. The conversations usually revolve around the day to day, though sometimes we talk about which shows we are applying to next or what slides should go into the PowerPoint presentation at the next lecture. Because I live in a house with all guys, I love filling my kitchen once a week with all women!

The group I started which no longer exists consisted of 9 women graduate students from my RISD class. After we graduated, we all stayed in Providence. For 8 years, we met in each other’s home studios on the first Sunday of every month. Everyone brought one piece of work, or their sketchbooks, or just their ideas. We always kept each other’s best interests at heart and this allowed us to give and receive honest critiques. We all seemed to be working with fiber and thread in one form or another. Life eventually pulled us in separate directions. As the group disbanded we mounted a wonderful exhibition called Common Threads at the Krause Gallery in Providence.

Threads of Time, detailWax, Oil on Birch, 2011

LH: How do you develop a sense of community with other artists, and how do you support your art colleagues?

MG: Building community is a very important part of my art process. Because making visual art can be such an isolating experience, I actively work to connect to other artists. The internet has helped me tremendously in this way. I have joined a group that Kim Bernard started on Facebook called Encaustic. I read the posts daily. Similarly, I religiously read about a half dozen artists’ blogs. I work hard to attend other artists’ openings. I participate in group Open Studio/Sales whenever I am able - time permitting. I am also very eager to support the next generation of artists who are in high school and college now. I often invite students into my studio and I like to hire young artists when I need help getting ready for a show. I frequently attend student openings – especially when my interns show their work.

Ties That Bind
20x20, Oil and Wax on Birch, 2011

LH: Do you ever get stuck with your work and how do you remedy this?

MG: I tend to second guess myself, and this causes me to get stuck. The more I trust my own art making process, the less stuck I become. A lot of what I do in my studio is just BE present and to take advantage of what I now call “the happy accidents.” In the past, I really struggled with negative mantras. I would play them over and over in my head like bad cassette tapes; “If you were a real artist, you would…” fill in the blanks: have a studio outside of the house, use certain materials, show your work more, etc. Instead of appreciating where I was and what I had accomplished, I caught myself being critical of where I was not. I have intentionally, thoughtfully, replaced the negative, unhelpful thoughts with positive ones. I am working on this – meditation helps.

20x20, Oil and Wax on Birch, 2011

LH: Do you have particular habits that you think support your art practice?

MG: This might sound a little corny but I think that being healthy emotionally, physically, and spiritually are the three most important habits that support my art practice. There are many ways I keep my mind, body, and soul in shape. Here are a few: I meditate twice a day, every day. I also get some form of exercise every day for at least 20-30 minutes or more if I can (run, bike, swim, walk, hike, ski, rollerblade, ice skate, etc.) I stretch as often as I can throughout the day and I do yoga once a week. Besides these things, I keep my Moleskin sketchbook with me at all times – it also serves as my obsessive To Do List. I record my creative ideas in the front, working towards the back like a traditional book. In the back, working its way forward, are my left brain ideas and to-do-lists. My creative (right brain ideas) move from the front of the book towards the back until they meet my logical (left brain ideas) and then I start a new book! About once a month, I make a 10:10 List in my sketchbook (10 things for which I am grateful, 10 things that I wish to attract into in my life). I get 8 hours of sleep every night as often as I can. I eat healthy food (lots of fruits and veggies) and stay away from meat except for fish. So that I don’t waste time searching for stuff, I stay as organized as I can in all aspects of my life – especially in my studio.

When I get into my studio, I start my wax melting and put on my working overalls and my art shoes. I sit quietly with a cup of tea in my thinking chair. When I am ready to work, I pick a station on my Pandora list, I put on my gloves, headphones, mask, glasses and begin. I listen to all sorts of music depending on the type of mood I need to shake off or celebrate.

Single Thread
20x20, Oil and Wax on Birch, 2011

LH: Do you have other jobs other than making art?

MG: I am the mother of two very high-energy, spirited, teenage sons. I take this ‘mom-job’ as I call it, very seriously and I work hard at it. I believe that the greatest contribution I can make to advance women is to raise two thoughtful, sensitive guys. (This is truly a work in progress!) I am lucky enough to have been able to marry my best friend 19 years ago. I am dedicated to cultivating a wonderful relationship with my husband who is a teacher and an all around creative guy as well. Neither my mom-job, nor my art-job pays the bills right now, so I do have a day job. I manage my family’s business; a year-round Early Childhood School and large Summer Day Camp on Cape Cod. (www.brewsterdaycamp.com). This is the same school and camp that my Mom started 30 years ago. I have been the camp director for 15 years. In the summer, I manage a staff of 90 people and we welcome about 600 campers a season. I love that my day job is helping people (young and old) learn that playing is an intentional, creative process – and a skill that must be cultivated in order to live a fulfilled life. I take my play very seriously!

LH: Where would you like to be in 5 years as far as your art making?

MG: In five years, I would like to be logging even more time in my studio. I would like to continue to show in group and solo shows focusing outside of New England. I would like to partner with one or two commercial galleries (preferably one in NYC) to help me continue to market my work. I would like to have a museum acquire some of work – maybe the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, DC.

20x20, Oil and Wax on Birch, 2011
LH: Do you have any upcoming shows that you'd like to mention?

MG: Thanks for asking, Lynette – I have a few things going on! I will be a Guest Artist at Ernden Fine Art Gallery in Provincetown, Mass., opening Friday, May 27. Also in P’town, I am included in the juried exhibit, Wax in Motion, at the Bowersock Gallery, opening Friday, June 3. (Both of these shows are in conjunction with The 5th International Encaustic Conference.) Also in June, I am in a 2 person exhibition called, Domesticity, at The Mill Gallery in Pawtucket, RI, opening Friday, June 10. This show will feature my recent installation work. Lastly, this fall, my work is included in the Pollination show that Gregory Wright is organizing at the Brush Gallery in Lowell, Mass.

LH: Do you have any web links/site/blog etc. you'd like to share that show your work?

MG: My website is www.milisagalazzi.com. I have a Fan Page on Facebook, called MisaFineArt, where I regularly post photos and announcements. Someday, I hope to have a blog. I am still thinking about what I might contribute to the blog-o-sphere that is unique. Suggestions are welcome!

Thank you Misa and good luck with your shows in Provincetown!


Nancy Natale said...

Wow, what an education you had, Misa! I am envious of the opportunities you had. What a great foundation you had and combined with women's studies. That's a wonderful combination. The story about your studio opening into the gallery at Philips Andover is wonderful. I also liked hearing about what a well-rounded life you lead. You are a lovely person who always brings balance to conversations and situations. I am glad to know you! Thank you, Lynette, for doing this inspiring post on Misa.

julia jensen said...

I loved reading this interview Misa. I was especially inspired by your honestly regarding those voices inside your head that can be so hard to shake sometimes. It helps me to remember that we are all struggling to stay on the path. Your work looks fabulous!

JanB said...

Thanks Lynette for this interview. Misa is an inspiring and talented artist who speaks to the struggle all woman artist have, how to be an artist while juggling all of our other jobs (roles). And thank you for sharing your story, Misa!