While global citizens flock to the Renaissance city to uncover its antiquated roots, world-renown galleries and iconic architecture, Monica Galletto is sifting through the narrow streets to map its prestige through the lens of contemporary art. Galletto, an American student in Graphic Design with Italian and Ecuadorian roots, arrived here earlier this summer from North Carolina State University to compile a catalog of artists who are working and living in Florence. Day One had to ask her a few questions about her endeavors, because this expat has a new vision of the historic city’s role in today’s art world…

Florence Student Contemporary Art Monica Galletto

D1 (Day One): Why the Renaissance city for contemporary art?
MG (Monica Galletto): These two opposites are exactly what attracted me to conduct my project in Florence. I wanted to explore how artists in Florence are influenced by an environment filled with so much historic art. How does it influence their styles? Does it provide for more creativity and inspiration? Are they overlooked by all of the historic art and museums? What organizations exist to help promote contemporary art and new artists in Florence? Every city in the world has artists, but Florence is unique given its famous history that holds so many famous artistic contributions. My vision is to extend that history to show that Florence still has many new artistic and creative contributions that are being made today.

D1: Do you think that many people are aware of the Florentine contemporary art scene?
MG: I’m still discovering the answer to that, because as of now I am only halfway into my project. So far, though, I have been to a number of events and have heard of several organizations and galleries that all promote today’s artists in Florence. While I think that there is a thriving community of these artists and for the contemporary arts, I don’t think that lots of people are aware of it. Many of these events attract locals, Italians, and other artists living and working here in Florence. This is a good population, but I don’t think it compares to the multitudes of people swarming into the large museums in Florence every day. And I think this is the hardest part for the contemporary art scene in Florence, competing with the old – the attractions and buildings that have been established for so long. Despite the innovative world that we live in today, people still are so stuck on the old when it comes to art. We too easily forget about all the new artistic innovations that are being made right around the corner!

D1: In any language or culture, “contemporary art” seems to be a fluid, controversial, and nebulous concept that rides in the fast lane. So what kind of meaning does contemporary art adopt in Florence?
MG: This has certainly been a question I have had to ask myself several times as I delve deeper into this project, and I will have to agree that it is quite a controversial term. I originally wanted to be as open as possible with my project, so I defined “contemporary” as simply meaning to be creating and working in the present day, and to bring new works into today’s world. This, however, allows for any and all kinds of styles. When people typically think of “contemporary,” modern and minimalistic styles usually come to mind. To me, contemporary describes a time, but I understand that it can also be definitive of a style. I think for many, the style(s) that fall under the umbrella of “contemporary” differ from person to person. In Florence especially, I think we have to be mindful that “contemporary” is a more inclusive term. Obviously, because of the arts, Florence attracts many people who are coming here to learn from the old work. So, you get many people who are painting in a “Renaissance-esque” style. I don’t think we can discredit these people; in any field, it is important to learn from history. However, you also have the other extreme in Florence who constantly challenge the conceptions of traditional art, and they produce very different things. I believe this is good too. I think both are necessary for making Florence a well-rounded city of art. We must preserve the history while propelling forward with new innovations. However, Florence still needs to work on balancing the two and equalizing the playing field.

D1: Favorites is a slippery game, but have you met an artist who is a total all-star?
MG: Haha I definitely can’t say that! It may sound cliche, but I truly have loved working with each of my artists. My project is designed so that I meet with each of the artists several times in order to complete their interviews, so with each of them I feel that I have gotten to know them not just as an interviewee but also as friends. I also must say that they have all been very hospitable. Several of them have taken me on their own personal tours around Florence and I have been able to see the city from their eyes, aside from the art. I am grateful that they have shared their bright personalities and wonderful personal stories with me. And as far as the art, I have seen such a range amongst all of them that the only thing to do is simply appreciate all of their individual styles because of the differences they bring. To see them creating with their hands and to hear the passion that goes into their work – it is impossible to pick favorites.

D1: Are you an artist? If you were an artist living and working in today’s Florence, what would you create?
MG: I have always considered myself an artist. Ever since I was little I remember that I would draw nonstop. I have a pile of paintings and drawings in my room back home and have always loved creating in every sense of the word. In recent years, I believe I have shifted to the title of “designer,” but I still like to hold onto the “artist” title as well! But as much as I love art and making it, I think I may love talking about art even more. That is why, whenever possible, I try to use design to talk about art. Although the landscape and sceneries in Florence are phenomenal, if I were to make art here I would stick with my all-time favorite subject: people. I believe I am already staying true to that subject as I share the stories of Florence’s own artists through design.

Contemporary Art Florence Student Graphic Design Monica Galletto

:. If you or someone you know is working within the Florentine contemporary art scene, or you would just like to know more about what’s happening, reach out to Day One! We would love to hear from you.

Jenna Millemaci