PALMER — It seems like yesterday when a spritely woman came into my shop. She said she was an artist. And what an artist!
She talked of things that are magic to my ears: assemblage, performance, poetry and the language of art. She spoke of concept and meaning and other overriding characteristics of fine art. She understood “Art” — capital “A” art with an enthusiasm I hadn’t seen since my days on the streets of SoHo.
We haven’t had the argument yet. Felicia Desimini refers to herself as an “interdisciplinary artist,” and true, as writer, artist and playwright she is, but I will stick with calling her a conceptual artist. Her art would stand without physical manifestations simply as an idea. In the chicken and egg world, I believe that the concept of chicken comes first.
She is also pretty darn good with a brush or pastel as well and produces some really superb mixed media works. Desimini also is the Mat-Su College art professor. What a world to have three great characteristics in one professor — a superior artist, an accomplished teacher and sensitive intellect. I envy her students.
Though I appreciate Desimini’s acumen as a professor (she has been teaching for more than 15 years at the college level and received her doctorate from Union Institute in Cincinnati), it is her art and conversation I am fascinated with. She speaks of Robert Raushenberg as an inspiration and her mixed media work clearly shows that homage. Her new piece “No. 96” is a wonderful example. I even think if you snuck it into The Museum of Modern Art and put it in with the Raushenbergs no one could tell it didn’t belong.
Her collaboration with Tim Robinson, a conceptual artist from Keene, N.H., “The Wedding Project” is large-scale mixed media assemblage of found materials, including 20 haikus and video, and clearly shows the depth of her art. This piece on the social relationships that culminate in a wedding is outstanding. I for one would hope this installation comes to the Valley.
Today, Felicia has added ethnomethodologist to her long line of disciplines. I’m not really sure what that means, but it is a one-word poem. It is her art language that I find most compelling. Perhaps that’s also why I refer to her as a conceptual artist. Her art writings range the gamut from theory to criticism.
And that is the point; Desimini is a walking, talking work of art. Curiously, if you take the time to talk with her you will come out of the conversation covered in ideas, like a dipped ice cream cone, ideas for your art!
We tend to pooh-pooh the intellectual aspects of art as unnecessary for the production of pretty pictures, but thought and meaning are essential characteristics of beauty. Desimini shows in her work how concept takes a work into a new realm. Concept makes a da Vinci work or a Jasper Johns exceptional. Her work and person are exceptional because she thinks.
I can’t wait to talk with her again and see a show of her work!
Greg Gusse is a Valley artist who writes about art for the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman.