VERONICA MORTELLARO / SEATTLE, WASHINGTON
My work is a chance for me to escape from the physical world- to delve into the intuitive. Ink is full of wonderful imperfections and happy accidents and I find that working with it allows me to let go. The figures that emerge are a way for me to express the human experience, the body in both its strength and frailty. Having dealt with chronic pain since 2012, these figures represent not only the sorrow and fear I have experienced, but also the sensuality, power, and human connection.
Prjct Social / INTERVIEW
How is the art scene in your city/country compared to the U.S/Michigan? Are their distinct differences that you’ve noticed in sales approach, perception of your work, and personal taste?
I am just beginning to find my way around the art world. Fort Collins, my hometown in Colorado, is a small city with limited opportunities for artists. When I moved to Seattle, I was in awe of all the possibilities that come with living in a larger community where art is valued and celebrated in all different forms. I have to thank the amazingly talented painter Anne Siems for being hugely influential in my journey. I found her serendipitously and we bonded over our common struggle with fibromyalgia. She quickly became my friend and mentor. Over the past two years, she has helped me hone and develop my own artistic language, guiding me through the Seattle art scene.
Walk us through a day in the studio. When you are fully committed to working on a new or current piece, what is your mindset, goals you keep in mind? What kind of mood does your space give off?
My living space and my studio space are one in the same. While I would love to say I have consistent working habits, and a plan of attack when going into a new piece, that is rarely the case. Chaos, unpredictability, and a natural flow are words that better describe my process. When I get into my zone, my studio becomes a whirlwind of splattered paper, spilled ink, and cluttered brushes. I’ve learned that rather than try and put forward a preconceived concept or image onto the paper, I have to let go and let the figures emerge on their own. It usually starts with the eyes, it always has, and the rest just happens.
Give our audience some insight on who these characters are? What influences helped shape your imagination and authentic style?
I owe much of my style to the medium of ink itself. It allows me to work quickly and instinctively, therefore I am unable to obsess, perfect, or worry. I swear, every time I paint I discover some new way that I can manipulate the ink. This propels my work forward and keeps me inspired.
The characters that appear as I’m working are my expression of what it means to be human. Painting lets me be vulnerable and expose myself in ways I otherwise couldn’t. None of the figures are portraits of specific people, rather they are universal representations of us all.
What do you do when you aren’t painting? Any other hobbies or vices you can’t live without?
I work at a mosaic art studio where I get to be part of a unique and wonderful community. I also dabble in banjo and the practice of qigong, but most of all I enjoy spending time with the people and animals that I love.
Can you remember the first time you picked up a paintbrush? When did you know you wanted to become an artist?
Like most artists, I can’t remember a time before I was drawing. Even as a six year old, I remember the struggle of trying to translate an image from my head onto the paper. My father has boxes and boxes...and boxes of art from my childhood. I also excelled in high school art classes and majored in fine art in college. You could say that art has always been my calling, but I’m just now starting to find my true voice.
How has it been working with Prjct OMNi for this installation in Northern Michigan? What made you decide to work with our platform?
I was first drawn to Prjct OMNi because I was inspired by the unique art being represented. When I was asked to be part of the installation in Traverse City, I was thrilled and flattered. Prjct OMNi has been so fun to work with and I hope it’s just the beginning of our collaborations.
When someone looks at your work, what do you want them to feel?
It’s not so much important to me what people feel when they look at my work, the important thing is that they feel. I paint from my gut and I hope that my work is experienced in that same way. A friend told me that one of my pieces brought her to tears, because she saw herself in it. That is the ultimate complement for me. As a young person dealing with chronic pain, much of my work reflects feelings of suffering, fear, and darkness. Other pieces of mine reveal joy, intimacy, and a sense of peace. Therefore, I hope that all people can find a connection to my work.
Do you have a selection of pieces you would never sell? A private catalog that you will enjoy throughout your lifetime?
I do form strong attachments to certain pieces. In a way, they become friends of mine. I’m a sentimental person and it’s hard for me to let go of things. At the same time, I feel a great deal of joy knowing that something I created is part of another person’s life. It is worth letting go.
What do you want to happen to your work once life is said and done? How would you like to be remembered?
We all fear death. When you create, you give birth. As an artist it’s comforting to be able to leave behind bits of myself. I don’t care what happens to my work once I’m gone, as long as it has touched somebody’s life along the way.