At first glance, New York based Maria Antonietta Mameli’s photographs may look like part of a study on the lives of ants: the routines of small creatures are traced along their paths, wherever those may lead. It is only upon closer inspection that the viewer realizes these are not still images of ants going about their routines, but that these subjects are, in fact, people. Stripping the immediate surroundings from her subjects, Mameli lays her subjects bare in a way that allows the viewer to emotionally connect with each tiny person.
Here, I asks Maria about her start as an artist, her beginnings in photography and what fuels her inspiration.
Daniel: How did you first start with art, and when did it become more then just a hobby?
Maria: My sister tells me (I don’t actually remember it) that since when I
was five I used to play with my mother’s Polaroid.
Daniel: Were you always passionate about art?
Maria: Photography and art in general have always been a great pleasure. Photography was my “secret” passion. I never shared it with anybody. My approach toward photography changed in 2005 when I was introduced to a friend, an artist, who taught me everything I needed to know about photography’s technicality. It was with his advice that I bought my first “real” camera, a Nikon FE2, with which I shot my first film in a very snowy weekend in New York City.
Daniel: Do you remember your first art sale?
Maria: In 2007 my work titled “Human Observations – Red Bags” was shown with the Bruce Silverstein gallery at Paris Photo, a great art show focused on contemporary photography. It was at Paris Photo that my first art sale took place.
Daniel: Do you remember your first painting? Well, the first actual piece that you could really show off with?
Maria: My first art piece is a composition of Polaroids I made in 2006, titled “a Sunday morning in New York”. It hangs in my apartment in New York.
Daniel: Is art something you went to school for?
Maria: I did not go to art school and never took a photography course. I am a self-taught artist.
Daniel: What has been the most rewarding achievement of being an artist?
Maria: Apart from the enjoyment of the creative process itself, experiencing people react to my work.
Daniel: Nowadays, when creativity has gone down the drain, how do you manage to find yours?
Maria: Observing people from my favorite spot, the Manhattan bridge, and in New York in general is all I need to keep my creativity level up.
Daniel: As an artist myself I know that sometimes I face difficulties, and can’t find the time to continue being artistic and creative. What keeps you motivated to make art?
Maria: Work comes from work. That’s the source of my motivation, where the new inspiration comes from.
Daniel: What’s on the horizon for you?
Maria: I just had my second solo show at the Bruce Silverstein gallery in New York. I also just had my first museum solo show (both shows closed on June 4) at the Museum Marino Marini in Florence, Italy where I showed my latest work titled “Human Observation-Free Composition”. It was a site-specific project for which I printed for the first time on a special canvas two pieces, 33 Feet and 15 Feet long, showing around 3,000 people. My work is now representing the 54th Venice Biennale in Washington DC. The show which opened on June 3rd at the Italian Embassy will be open until the beginning of September. This coming August, the 33 Feet Free Composition’s piece will be shown in an exhibition organized by the Museum of Art of the Province of Nuoro, Italy. The exhibition will take place during Dromos International Music Festival in the magical setting of “Parco dei Suoni” in Sardinia, Italy. Next, I plan to show the Free Composition in New York.