I'm Laura Mustio, a painter and photographer in Pittsburgh, PA.
I've been art-making since I was wee tiny, finger painting along with Bob Ross on TV. I guess I like to think that my work's progressed a bit since then? Regardless, painting is still my passion.
I paint as a way to archive and pay tribute to my experiences, but I also hope that my work will inspire others to slow down and to take some time to go somewhere meaningful within themselves.
When I'm working on a painting, I'm going somewhere inside of myself that I don't think we let ourselves go very often. It's somewhere really personal and sometimes complicated, but that human element of art, and of life, is what this project is all about.
So what is INITIRIC?
INITIRIC is, simply, the proposed plan for the next year of my life. It's a self-designed artistic residency that will take place across India, Italy, Ireland, and Iceland.
THE PROJECT'S 3 MAIN GOALS
1. To create a series of at least 3 paintings per country (or one painting per month), in addition to sketches, drawings, photographs, and journal entries.
2. Service. In an effort to give back to each country and to ensure that I'm connecting with people in a meaningful way, I'm going to spend time in each country volunteering. In India, I'll be spending several weeks at an AIDS orphanage in Chennai. (This orphanage was the subject of the Pitsburgh-born documentary Blood Brother and I would encourage you to learn more about it here: http://www.bloodbrotherfilm.com/) I plan to do similar work in all four countries and am researching several organizations in Italy, Ireland, and Iceland, but I'm also open to any and all suggestions! If you have ideas for great organizations that could use some help, please feel free to contact me by using the link next to my profile picture.
3. The third goal of the project is to bring everything together in at least one gallery exhibition.
WHY THESE 4 COUNTRIES?
The truth is, spending a year abroad, really getting to know another place on a day to day, ups and downs, "We're not in Kansas anymore" kind of way and seeing how it affects my artwork, is something I've wanted to do for a while now. Iceland had been on my radar for quite some time, but when I thought about living and painting in Iceland for a year, a country that never reaches a temperature above 60 degrees, I was pretty sure I'd have seasonal depression the entire time. So. I pulled up a Google Map and assessed my options. The "I" theme was not really planned, but after thinking about the places I thought would be most visually and culturally interesting (keeping a realistic limit on each country's proximity to the others), and what I wanted to explore artistically, India, Italy, Ireland, and Iceland made the cut.
INDIA is a country I've wanted to immerse myself in since high school. That desire has only grown as my commitment to painting has grown. The orphanage that I am planning to work in was a big part of the decision to add this country to the list. The story of Rocky Braat and the amazing kids that he loves is one that's too great to pass up. Which is why I'm giving you the link to learn more. Again. http://www.bloodbrotherfilm.com/
ITALY is the motherland. (Or at least 50% of it...) I recently had the opportunity to see the town where my great-great grandmother raised her 14 kids. I met family I never knew existed and from the minute I got out of the cab in Santa Maria a Vico until I left 3 hours later, I was embraced as family (and so was the cab driver!) I want to get to know the town that was home to my ancestors in a real and personal way. Much of my family still lives in this town and I want to explore the idea of identity and family through my work.
For an artist like me, IRELAND is a visual dream. My work is a direct result of the colors I see and the things I feel and I want to let my work be inspired by a thousand kinds of green and Ireland's rich artistic tradition.
And ICELAND. Iceland's quirky personality is undeniable. Artists like Bjork and Sigur Ros and Ragnar Kjartansson (just some of the country's best-known) create work that I think is unique and awesomely weird and unapologetic. Add that to the landscape and I am already head over heels in love with the ways that this place is going to influence me.
WHY THIS PROJECT MATTERS
So the obvious question... Why fly off on a world adventure when I could just stay here in Pittsburgh and take some time off and paint? (If you know my grandma, you KNOW she'd be lighting way fewer candles at church right now.)
As artists we need to allow ourselves to have a chance to refuel and be inspired and especially to be challenged to consider new ideas. We also need to have the time to MAKE THE WORK that results from those experiences.
Pittsburgh has given me an incredible artistic foundation. I’ve painted and exhibited here…
I’ve curated here….
and I’ve built a fantastically diverse community of creative people.
But I think part of the reason Pittsburgh’s art community, or ANY art community, is so strong and vibrant is because we extend ourselves. Every time an artist goes out into the world and comes back with a broader perspective, I think the entire community can benefit from that.
Inspired artists inspire others.
Think of one piece of art that has made you just. stop.
Or if you're not into art, think about a creative person that's made your life better. You can see the influences of inspired people everywhere.
But, like a new, family-sized bag of salt and vinegar chips, there's gonna come a time when the goodness runs out. (Shout out, Kettle Brand S&V! <3 ) Creative energy is the same way. We've got to put something back in the tank or we will be destined for a life of boring, crappy, uncreative, unstimulating art-making and, by default, boring, crappy, uncreative, unstimulating art-consuming. And nobody wants that.
THE MONEY PART
I am well aware that $15,000 is an ambitious amount of money, so I want to break down how I'm planning to use it. This is the amount I've estimated I will need to raise in order to do this project effectively and safely.
Risks and challenges
Risks and challenges. There are, of course, a hundred things I'm thinking about. And when I say thinking, I mean worrying. This is a year of my life we're talking about here.
My brain sounds a little bit like this:
"What if I miss a flight? What if I ship my artwork and the plane crashes into the middle of the ocean? What if I get lonely? What if something happens to my family while I'm gone? What if no one wants to be my friend? What if I can't learn the language, thereby making it impossible for someone to be my friend even if they WANTED to? What if I get hurt? Or sick? What if I get there and I have painter's block? What if I don't make any work I like? What if I don't make any work that my backers like? What if I meet a dashingly handsome Irishman and we fall in love? (I digress.) What if, after two weeks, I think I've made a huge mistake? What if I'm not emotionally strong enough to handle picking up and moving and changing every 3 months? Etc, etc, etc."
And that was just about a minute of stream of consciousness worrying.
But the real question is: Am I equipped to handle it?
Let me be perfectly honest here when I say that I'm not sending myself on a year-long vacation in which I sit on a beach and sketch in a beautiful flowing skirt and drink delicious boat drinks all day. In addition to giving myself the chance to refuel, I am purposefully setting myself up to be challenged. To be in new environments that I'm not used to or not comfortable with and to push myself constantly. Whether that be a language barrier or a cultural one, a new town where I need to navigate directions (WHICH IS LITERALLY MY AREA OF GREATEST UN-TALENT) or being faced with a personality that might be really challenging to handle.
But am I equipped to handle it? I'm sure that I am.
The best thing about being a creative person is that everything that happens differently than the way you planned it is an opportunity to practice being a better artist. Creativity doesn't just apply to my painting. And I'm not just an artist when I'm in front of a canvas. This whole year will be a lesson in using the skills I've been honing since I knew I was an artist.
So. Will some of my artwork end up at the bottom of the ocean? Maybe. Will I be able to kill a bug on my own? (My second area of most un-talent because bugs are horrifying.) Probably, with a decent amount of screaming and swearing. Will I mess up directions and be lost and tired and cranky 84 times a week? Most likely.
But I'm confident that I will be able to see those challenges as opportunities and not reasons to give up.
So. The ball is in your court, dear Kickstarter friend! Do you like the project or think it's crap? Do you want to see what work comes out of this year as much as I do? If so, I'm going to encourage you to mosey on over to the righthand side of your screen, find an incentive that looks especially appealing to you, and help a sister out!
I am so ready to get started and I am so appreciative of ANY support that you are able to give! :)
To INITIRIC! And beyond!
P.S. A GIANT THANK YOU to Adam Steinsdoerfer for his masterful video making skills! Forever indebted, my friend. Also, thanks to Donora (http://www.donoramusic.com/) for the use of their tune! Oh, and of course. Thanks to all of the friends and family who proofread this profile a hundred times before I actually launched it. Thanks for humoring me. :)Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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