SARTWENTY-TWENTY- Chapter III: About Franca Marini

Our intern Aurora is interviewing faculty members at the Siena Art Institute, reflecting on the challenges of 2020 and looking forward as we move ahead with 2021. This is the third interview of her series, speaking with our Painting instructor, Franca Marini

Building artistic knowledge

Franca Marini was born in Siena, where she attended the Istituto d’Arte Duccio di Buoninsegna; then she continued her vocational training at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Florence. She is a polyhedric artist (she has made a significant number of art installations, videos and sculptures) but she is well-versed in painting, which is the subject she teaches at the Siena Art Institute. Siena and Tuscany represent the nest where Franca was born and grew up; completing her artistic studies, though, she felt far too enveloped in that nest, so that she suddenly decided to seek new horizons going to San Francisco. This decision was instinctive, guided by a strong will rooted in Franca’s soul: to work as a professional artist. These American years, spent in San Francisco and then in New York City, helped Franca gain perspective and experience which has given her renewed appreciation of her home city.

Franca Marini: Interior Landscape 11, 1994, oil on canvas, 51×69 inch / 178×132 cm

Franca’s experience with SART

Having returned to Italy after more than a decade, Franca started collaborating with the Siena Art Institute, which has given her the chance to remain in contact with many international artists through various initiatives organized and managed by SART, including the Brandeis-in-Siena summer program, StARTers and SART’s residency programs:

– Franca is one of the lead professors for the Brandeis-in-Siena summer program, co-organized with SART and Brandeis University, bringing international students to Siena for intensive coursework in Painting and Art History

– Franca leads oil painting coursework not only for SART’s international study-abroad students but also City Arts workshops open to the local community

– Franca follows StARTers, an ongoing series of artists talks at SART, which has continued in an online format during the covid19 pandemic, conversations with guest speakers from around the world about creative approaches, seeking inspiration, and overcoming challenges in work as professional artists, writers, designers, architects, etc.

SART’s residency programs which began in 2011 have given Franca the chance to be in contact with many international artists and writers who come as guests of SART for month-long residencies throughout the year to pursue their artistic research.

 Franca likes to highlight, “the great contribution of SART over the years in bringing contemporary art to Siena and its local community through both the residencies and StARTers, the latter open to the public and free of charge.”

These are only some of the various projects held by this institution, and they are majestically carried on by the Director Miriam Grottanelli De Santi, whose merits Franca praises.

The Siena Art Institute, where Franca has been working since 2009, “is a very complex and multifaceted artistic institution which does not behave as an elitist and self-sustaining international reality which remains clammed up, but, on the contrary, which is permeable to the outside and the territory. As a matter of fact, the collaboration with local institutions and organizations has always been part of SART’s mission, which leads to the realization of projects related to social themes such as marginalization,” as Franca herself says. 

This particular kind of opening could be called interterritorial, because, maintaining a tight connection to the surrounding environment, SART can reach the marginalized. Interterritoriality could be added to internationality, the other important feature we have already quoted above: this dynamic duo makes up the ultimate SART leading feature, that is inclusion.

Franca Marini: Transnational Migration and Immigration,  2018, 2x26x11(h) ft / 8×3,30(h)x22 m

An endless stream: Franca’s journey mixed with the work of SART

Franca’s artistic career has been highly interdisciplinary and international. From her foundations in painting her experimentations led her to the realm of video-making and installation art.

For example, after leaving New York City she realized a video entitled Urban Lines about metropolises closely tied to her experience there. In more recent years she has realized video projects like those shot in the Gaza Strip and in Havana. Franca has also created numerous installations, which make people interact with and experience places, architectures, environments.

One of those art installations is Transnational Migration and Immigration, an immersive and multimedia installation realized in 2018 for the Human Rights Institute at Kean University (New Jersey, USA). Using this work, Franca meant to represent the journey undertaken by those migrants who attempt to cross the Mediterranean sea risking their lives but also their interior journey, which involves various feelings of change and hope. Franca feels to have, as an artist, a responsibility towards the topic of migration, an unprecedented mass event which had its peak between 2015 and 2017 but that is still ongoing. This recent wave of migration is a critically important contemporary phenomenon, which involves issues of human rights which are connected to Franca’s  artistic research.

On the theme of migration Franca has realized not only installations but also videos in collaboration with the migrants she met. Settling in their “arrival country”, migrants become an international part of interterritoriality, and this is the bridge connecting Franca’s artistic activism which aims to bring about social change with SART’s projects and pursuits.

Franca Marini: “On a journey”  was conceived as an integral element of the installation Transnational Migration and Immigration. The video was projected in a loop on a shape made of fabrics specifically created by the artist.

S.O.S. razzismo

Currently, Franca is working on an artistic documentary about racism, commissioned by SOS Razzismo Italia and financed by UNAR (Ufficio Nazionale Antidiscriminazioni Razziali). It won’t be organized as an actual documentary, but it will include some footage taken from the two-days-event Abitare la diversità held at the Officina Creativa dell’Abitare in Montalcino (OCRA). The work will also include testimonies by migrants welcomed in the territory.

These are the connections created to unite people and fight marginalization. And this is Franca Marini.

For more information about Franca’s work, visit her website: francamarini.com

-Aurora Angiolini, intern

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