We had the good fortune of connecting with Flavia Lovatelli and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Flavia, where are your from? We’d love to hear about how your background has played a role in who you are today?
I was born in Lima, Peru from an Italian father and American mother. When I was 6 we moved back to Italy where I grew up. I was born a creative soul, as far as my memories go I was always creating something, from clothes for my dolls out of paper, coloring on anything viable to making jewelry out of flowers as a little girl, progressing to furniture building, murals and clothing design for myself and my friends as I grew older. Growing up in Italy it was a constant inspiration and influence on everything I did; the architecture, landscapes, fashion and so on is amazing, but I think it is also inside each one of us to either be amazed by it or take it for granted.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I am a multidisciplinary recycled artist, though my main body of work is made out of recycle paper I manipulate and assemble into sculptures, I also paint; acrylic mix media, I am a trashion (trash fashion) designer and I also create large installation pieces, mostly out of recycled plastic. What sets me apart from others is a myriad of things from the choice of material I use to the intricacy of how I use it. Recycling materials isn’t for the faint of heart, it is time consuming to treat the material, space is also a factor, in order to save enough material to create you have to be a bit of a hoarder. I spend in average 16 hours a day working, but I don’t see it as work, for I am drawn to what I do, a good habit, a healthy addiction.
What I am most proud of is a difficult question to answer, I am proud of so many of my pieces, from a large quantity of my spores to several of my sculptures to many of my trashion pieces to my assemblage paintings. I can’t pick one medium nor one particular piece. I am proud of them all for they all feel like achievements, all of them take time to make and when done there is a sense of pride for my involvement alone.
I got to where I am today by working very hard; starting with never giving up on any of the goals I set, some taking longer than others because sometimes you loose sight of where you were going, but inevitably I have finished every single project. I am a collective artist too, which means I seek other artists to build a stronger voice, I have organized events in the past for artists, collected and shared information on artist shows, events, festivals and calls and we would set out to present in group. It wasn’t easy, there were a lot of moving parts to everything all the time, but I was never one to back down from hard work. The lesson in all this is everything in life worth anything is going to be hard work, if something comes easy the value of that thing is lesser, subconsciously we can only appreciate that which cost us, and we have all heard that it takes 10,000 hours to perfect that which you set out to do… My first 10,000 hours were focused on perfecting my technique of rolling the paper and coiling or quilling, so focused was I that I didn’t figure on how many choices I had in the direction of the roll for every slip of paper. Each piece of paper has 8 edges I can choose from, two ends to coil from and two sides that have slight differences to choose from which are imperative to the outcome of my sculptures. During Covid I was working so much to pass the time and keep my sanity that I felt I was repeating myself too much. So I went looking to change the outcome of my coils and that is when I came up with manipulating the coils further into domes, cones and tentacles.
I create assemblage sculptures out of recycled materials, paper is my medium of choice, recycled gift tissue paper, magazine papers & books. Not all paper lends itself to my work so I am choosy. My spores contain recycled scraps I find and collect, old buttons, broken jewelry, expired medicine etc.
While my spores are most popular due to pricing the larger pieces are no less, they are just a little out of price range for some. All inspired by nature my spores represent natures seed pods, some are full of seeds and some are open and the seeds hanging onto the edge.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
If my best friend was visiting for a long weekend I would take them to Crave Artisan Market for lunch, it is my ultimate lunch place favorite eatery, the Gourmet Shop in 5 points. Small Sugar at the Vista and Sound Bites a small nondescript eatery with delicious food. I would take them to see Stormwater Studios a collective artist studio that has 10 incredibly talented artists! followed by shopping at Lewis & Clark studio around the corner where Clark Ellefson makes the most incredible lamps and furniture. I recommend the State Museum to see what’s new at the Gallery and possibly visit the museum. Columbia Museum of Art of course and If Gallery are my usual places to take people, that is for those who want to immerse themselves in art. For dinner I have a few choices; Coa Agaveria for latino food, Black Rooster american/continental cuisine and Ratio a delicious Peruvian Restaurant in Elgin, SC. Saturday we have Soda City market, a great outdoor market experience and eat at one of the many food trucks attending the market ever week. The most interesting and frequented areas are Five Points, Vista, West Columbia and Caycee with several artsy businesses. Depending on how long my friend would stay I would take them to all.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My husband deserves the biggest shoutout, when we met we were already knee deep in our own stories, and we met because of a show I put on in Charlotte, NC. He loved my work so much he offered to invest in me and allow me to be a full time artist. That was the most generous and amazing offer a human could do, offer to sponsor someone in their craft! I am where I am now thanks to him. I know my path would still be the same, but the timing would be completely different. Meeting him was the best thing that could have happened to me, then he brought me to Columbia, SC where my world exploded in this kaleidoscope of artistic experiences and achievements. I was immersed in this amazing community of artists and art lovers. Before Covid there were so many art events, First Thursday on Main was our favorite thing, where hundreds of people would come out to see the new art receptions in the various galleries, museum, art centers and more, while music was playing everywhere, restaurants were thriving and small businesses would display artists works for the pleasure of all. It was dreamy. In those days I organized a trashion show, I had two installation shows and a myriad of smaller gallery events, from solo shows to collective ones.