Do I believe we have a destiny written in the stars? Yes.
Do I believe that we can choose what path we want to follow? Also, Yes.
Let me explain myself, my name is Maria Rizzo, I am a fine artist from Italy who discovered a love for drawing at a young age due to the fact that it was the only thing that made me feel really good about myself because of my being “different.” Yes, I was special, but not in a good way as I had a lot of limitations: one was not being able to retain information and the other one was not being able to verbally communicate with other people until the age of five. “There,” I thought while drawing, “I have some potential here.”
At the young age of eight, after my teacher, a nun, who was also an amazing artist, scolded me by saying: “If only you could apply the same passion that you use for drawing into studying, you would be a phenomenal student!” A light bulb in my brain lit up. That day I knew exactly that I had to become a professional fine artist, and make that profession my living. So after promising myself that that was my destiny, it was ease to ignore all the nay say-ers telling me that I was going to end up as a starving artist. I knew my truth and I wouldn’t let anyone change my mind. I am not going to lie, I was a lucky kid, I grew up in a loving family in the north of Italy, with a father who was a great provider and a mother who loved art and collecting art, and always supported my creative dream from day one. I attended the Liceo Artistico Sperimentale Preziossissimo Sangue in Monza, an artistic high school that taught me five years of art history, drawing, painting, sculpture, architecture and gave me the foundations to grow as a confident fine artist. In the summer of 2007, my mom made the tough decision to move her family back to her native city, East Syracuse, NY, to give her kids a better chance to find a good job after graduation.
In 2008, I met my husband while pursuing a BFA in Painting at SU and in 2009, I made the difficult decision to pause school to focus on my growing family. In 2010, I made another important decision: although a stay-at-home mom I chose to pursue my dream of becoming a professional fine artist. I read many books on how to make it happen, and started my own business. Between 2010 and 2016, I learned a few things about running a business as a visual artist: I created different series of paintings, I learned how to create thematic art shows, I figure out how to get into art competitions, I studied how to pitch to the press to create a wider awareness about my brand and, ultimately, how to sell my art to people. Not an easy task for a shy person like me, even though crucial for running a business!
My take away from this experience is that an artist has to become a brave entrepreneur and build an authentic brand and a professional presence both offline and online. Also, artists have to be always on the look out for opportunities to reach out to their target audience; thus, specializing in a particular field and finding a niche are crucial to find financial stability. I personally still have a way to go!
In 2015, I was asked to teach my very first painting class at Homer Center of the Arts, and scared as I was, I did jump into this new opportunity and fell in love with teaching other adults the in and outs of creating a painting in acrylic. After that positive experience, I started thinking of pursuing a career as an art educator for adults, and more specifically my intention of becoming a painting and drawing professor in a college. In 2016, I made the important decision to finish my Bachelor degree in Visual Arts at SUNY Emprie State College, and I will graduate in the spring of 2017. This semester I am taking Art Criticism, and my professor suggested I started using my blog as a tool to participate in the conversations relating the local arts and the art world. This class will give me the opportunity to go back out in my art community and see what other contemporary artists are doing on a local level, but also to keep an eye into what’s happening in the art world at large. In my next blog post I will talk about two art openings in Syracuse, NY that I had the pleasure to experience, and how these art shows made me re-think about my path as a professional fine artist.