20 Questions w/ Cristina Ponticelli

Madelife sat down with Artist and Architect Cristina Ponticelli for a quick discussion about her work, inspirations, and life as an artist.

Don’t miss the opening reception of the Natural Feels Gallery Show at Madelife!


Describe yourself and your work.

I’m a simple person with passions and manias. Architecture, Art, and Design – if there’s a difference between them – are my passions. Perfectionism and attention to detail are my manias. My work reflects the marriage of my passion and mania and more – the “more” being the result of a normal but complex life. The results can be seen in my Art – simple and unique pieces imbued with passion.

Who or what has been your biggest influence?

Beauty – and I’ve been lucky to live a life being able to appreciate the beauty all around me. I was born and raised in Lisbon, Portugal and as a child spent my summers both in the country with grandparents as well as on the coast at the beaches with my parents. These summers will stick with me for the rest of my life – the sensations, smells, and images are burned in my mind. As a young adult traveling around Europe, living and working in Italy for some years, I found exploring the old continent was like traveling in time – the rich history and culture gave me the inspiration I needed to start creating my art.

How did you get started in your career as an artist?

As a kid, I explored art through building things from cardboard. My father was always creating and building – whether it was with wood, metal, mechanics, or in the garden. My mother gave me the gift of culture – together we visited every museum, gallery, fashion design event, and ethnic restaurant. Coming from this background, it was only a natural next step for me to synthesize the world around me via art and being an Architect.

What piece of work best represents you and why?

A toilet I built from upcycle metal pieces best represents the universally difficult years of being a human teenager.

As an adult, my “Heartbeat” piece speaks best for my current life – secure, stable, and happy.

How do your materials influence your work?

In my art, my instinct guides me. So for me, different materials are interesting and influential in their own right – it depends where the inspiration comes to shape a unique creation.

Where do you go daily / weekly to get inspired?  

As a visual person, I observe and absorb everything around me, accumulating ideas until creation happens.

What have you learned through creating that has surprised you?

I’m always learning, always trying new things, and my perfectionism means I never stop trying to improve a piece. So for me, nothing is completely finished. The surprising thing I’ve learned over the years is that even with the perfectionism I can have beautiful, unfinished pieces forever.

Describe your work routine for your artistic practice.

Unexpected inspiration, an accumulation of thoughts and ideas with no time to materialize them is what I find to be the most challenging part of being an artist. As I’m sure most artists do, I hope one day I will have more time and less pressure to be able to freely create as inspiration comes.

Tell us about any recent collaborations, why they worked or didn’t.

My husband is my favorite collaborator – we are both architects, we complement each other in taste and flexibility of thought. Together we discover so many ideas that alone I would never have discovered.

I’m always open to new collaborations and love to hear advice and ideas from other people, especially those with different backgrounds and points of view.

How do you balance being an artist and making a living?

The truthful answer: I don’t! I would love to find that balance again one day, but for now time with my family is fleeting and precious. With my kids growing up I’ve had a little more time to experiment and create.

What is your process for coming up with new work

Currently, I don’t have a specific process – when inspiration comes, I do all that I can to give it a chance and let it come into the world through me.

Why do you believe art has value?

Art has value because it can have a life of it’s own – it doesn’t need to be explained, it can speak by itself and directly to your heart.

What is playing on your stereo these days?

I enjoy all different types of music, but enjoy silence in the same measure.

What are you reading right now?

Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels.

Where is your favorite place to visit?

For me, travel is one of the greatest joys in life! It’s such a gift to see and learn about other cultures, to view the landscapes and the colors and the light in person – it’s always different from photos. Specifically, my mind and brain are still somewhere in Europe, mostly close to the ocean.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received in your creative career?

The best advice I received is the simplest – “Believe in yourself – you can do anything that you believe.” It’s an eternal truth that’s so good to hear.

Which new (or newly discovered) artist is currently inspiring you the most?

The Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid and the self-taught Japanese architect Tadao Ando.

What’s the best thing about your studio/ workspace/ workshop?

Aside from the beautiful light and the view, the isolation to hear my inspiration.

What do you do when you hit a block?

I give myself some time and space from the issue and move my attention temporarily to something else.

What’s the best part about being an artist?

To me, having the freedom to do and create whatever I want to. A surprisingly great thing about being an artist are the comments and the critics – good or bad, in the end, they’re interesting and always useful.

 

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