I believe we all have a mission in life,
and that helping people to reconnect
to their own spark, through the vehicle of art,
is mine. And being a better person
helps me to be a better painter.
~ Mia Tavonatti
Art for humanity . . .
Beauty's transformative power . . .
Creativity and the creative process . . .
These "ABCs" undergird American artist Mia Tavonatti's conceptualization for the Svelata Foundation for the Arts, a nonprofit organization that Tavonatti founded in 2009 to "bridge the gap between non-artist and artist by educating society about the true nature of creativity and by reinventing the way artists work." Tavonatti aims to achieve her foundation's mission through touring art exhibitions, community "interactions", student collaborations, documentaries on the creative process, and educational arts programs that "reveal the true nature of creativity and the transformative power of beauty."
Svelata (the Italian word for "unveiled" or "revealed") serves as a benefactor of artists, for up to three years, providing grants and a forum for artists to create and exhibit their work and discuss their creative processes. In return, sponsored artists become mentors in the foundation's "From Kids to College" program, which seeks to keep alive the "creative sparks" of children ages 8 to 18 by "eliminating excuses" for not pursuing and creating art. The program awards scholarships to those who meet certain educational standards and are accepted into four-year college arts programs. In addition, Svelata contributes a portion of income from exhibition admissions and retail sales of Svelata products to building and improving arts facilities in high schools by, for example, introducing technology and making educational presentations to art teachers so that the latter become more effective in helping students plan a future of creative service.
According to her Website and video, Tavonatti's idea and vision for the foundation originated from a series of her monumental oil paintings on canvas, "Svelata", that were shown at the Arsenale in Amalfi, Italy, in 2007 and seen by more than 6,000 people from more than 30 countries. Subsequent to that exhibition, Tavonatti was one of 20 artists chosen to exhibit in 2008 at the Cesi Palace in Acquasparta, Italty, where she was awarded "Best of Show".
Currently, Tavonatti is producing an international tour of 22 of her paintings that are "suspended" in a custom "nomadic space" of fabric and aluminum truss —17,000 square feet of tensile architecture that Tavonatti designed, plus 5,300 square feet for retail sales as well as a "video zone" and interactive computers. The multi-media installation, which includes an original soundtrack and choreographed LED lighting, is showing in seven American cities. In each city where the installation is exhibited for three months, local art, film, design, and music majors work with the community's professional designers, music producers, artists, and educators on a series of competitive "assignments", the winning results of which are shown publicly. The "video zone" section of the exhibition features five-minute documentaries from the public that "tell about a personal battle, victory or loss with the creative process." Lectures, performances, and demonstrations also are part of the Svelata experience.
Tavonatti's future plans include 20 "Masters" and "Emerging Artists" tours in the organization's first 10 years; a collaborative mural project to promote peace; and a series of creative-process documentaries that seek to "deconstruct the myth of 'artist as magician'" and show how creativity is a way of thinking and problem-solving. The first such documentary has already been made, the one-hour Svelata: A Work in Progress, which describes how Svelata came to be.
Svelata "Recreating Creativity!" from Mia Tavonatti on Vimeo.
About Mia Tavonatti
Tavonatti is a professional illustrator, painter, and muralist. Her work is in many corporate, private, and institutional collections and has been exhibited widely in the United States, Italy, France, and Greece. Her book Cramped Quarters was nominated for a Golden Kite Ward by the Children's Book Writers and Illustrators Society and her art instructional books have been published in more than 20 countries. She was one of four artists selected to take part in the U.S. Air Force Arts Program for which she documented training missions of the 550th Search and Rescue Special Ops teams at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She has produced a wide range of editorial illustrations for trade and mass-market magazines and for corporate campaigns.
In addition to work in the other media, Tavonatti creates extraordinary stained-glass mosaics for restaurants, private residences, corporations, and public arts projects.
A resident of Newport Beach, California, Tavonatti teaches painting at Laguna College of Art and Design.
Mia Tavonatti's Website
Svelata Foundation on FaceBook
Svelata on Twitter
All Roads Lead to Svelata (Blog)
"Artist Spotlight: Mia Travonatti" in OC Arts & Culture, November 21, 2009 [This is an excellent interview with the artist. It is the source of the quote opening this post.]
Tavonatti's Limited-Edition Prints (Giclees)
Svelata Foundation address: 113 East City Place Drive, Santa Ana, CA 92705
Amalfi on Wikipedia