Transforming the Mistake

Artist Interview by Emily Citraro
GEORGIANNE FASTAIA was born in Brooklyn , New York , in 1964 to a middle class family that later moved to Connecticut . Her mother, a High School art teacher, encouraged Georgianne to follow her passion and live creatively, however, she only seriously began painting in 2001. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from San Francisco State University earning a B.A. in Creative Writing and did additional study in Clinical Psychology at Lewis and Clark University , Portland , Oregon .

A self-taught painter, she supports her 2 year old through her work which has been exhibited in galleries throughout California. Her art is also in private collections across the country, and has been featured in Art Week Magazine, The SF Chronicle, and the July 2009 issue of ELLE Décor.

Georgianne experienced some difficult setbacks in life, including moving from home at age sixteen and working while finishing high school and college. She ultimately found herself enmeshed in addiction, yet Georgianne has managed to find a way to thrive in the face of adversity, and looks back at her experiences with candor and hope for the future, stating that in that painful experience lies " the heart and soul of things" and the raw emotion that defines truly felt experience. It is this wellspring of feeling that draws collectors of her work. These difficult times have had a direct impact on her work as an artist, though not in the way one would imagine: through the process of recovery and soul-searching, Georgianne has embraced both the light and the dark, the painful experiences she inflicted upon herself are not recounted with shame but with a sense of strength and optimism. For anyone to begin painting at age 37 and to be selling work a year later; and with no formal training other than a single college course (with Bob Bechtel) is remarkable. To do so after having spent years struggling to recover from chemical dependency illustrates far more of the nature of Georgianne's strength.

When asked how her life experiences impacted her artistic process in producing her enigmatic and beautifully distressed paintings she had this to say, "I think an artist has to have something to share that is authentically their own experience" Periods of my past had been so self destructive that all the artifice which preserves our sense of self -- education, love, family, everything had been stripped away. The process of recovery required rigorous honesty: a willingness to try to confront the unappealing parts of myself. And it required the willingness to do anything to rebuild my life.” Georgianne has now been clean for over a decade. What she learned is reflected in her painting process - to destroy and rebuild the surface over and over until beauty is revealed.

In developing an unorthodox technique of scrubbing her canvases, Fastaia has embraced the distressed aesthetic. Each canvas is covered with layers of paint...Murphy’s oil soap is poured onto the canvas which is tilted to create drips; horizontals and verticals. The soap which is used to clean brushes was a surprising discovery. It eats away layers of paint in what Fastaia calls "LIFTS"----revealing hidden colors below.The process is completely unpredictable and requires a fearless leap of faith for the artist. By giving up control, this process forces her to stay lighthearted and adaptable to the paintings evolution, while staying sensitive to the moments of beauty as they are revealed.

After Hurricane Katrina, Fantasia did a moving series on the flooding of New Orleans .
She explains, "During the ice storm of 1972 we had to evacuate the house. My family spent Christmas in the Salvation Army. What I remember clearly about this were two very contrary ideas coexisting; this awful disaster somehow also held within it a natural beauty that I had never before witnessed, it was as if the world had disappeared into shades of grey. From an early age I was aware of things having many layers. 

I seek to reveal these layers which give depth, history, and complexity to my forms. My route is a process which goes against all standard painting instructions; never mix oil and water. I am actively seeking to create “catastrophes” on the canvas and to work them slowly until their beauty is recognizable.”Whether her subjects are rooftops rising above flood waters, or solitary figures alone in their deepest beliefs, they are unified by her treatment of the canvas; a testament to the power of transformation.
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