We had the good fortune of connecting with Paola Bidinelli and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Paola, Let’s talk about principles and values – what matters to you most?
Today, more than ever, the value I hold dear is an awareness of the need to work as humanity for the common good. As an artist, I perceive the hardships of society, its disparities and turmoil, and seek alternative versions of dominant narratives. As an eco-activist artist living between Utah and Massachusetts and working with discarded materials, I am aware of the importance of building a future for humanity with innovation and resources, especially by limiting and, where this is not possible, at least rethinking, reusing and reducing our waste. This hope is made visible through my work, composed almost entirely of industrial and household waste and found materials. My art is an invitation to reconsider our daily lifestyles in order to build lasting values and not to underestimate the small changes that could have a big impact on the environment.
I am committed to advancing the “Trash vs. Beauty” initiative, supported by a local nonprofit organization, Bianco Avant-garde, whose motto is “Clean the Planet with Art!”
My personal “EcoArt” mission is largely influenced by my Italian Arte Povera mentors. From them I inherited an awareness of the risk for this humanity to “forget” and alienate itself in a frenetic technology and mechanization that pervades every aspect of Western life and culture.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
As a mixed media artist, I cultivate a passionate relationship with disused materials and objects. Over time, I have experimented with their aesthetic potential, choosing them for their unusual form, color, and medium, long removed from art tradition. What most attracts my curiosity is the intimate side of the waste, as a piece of life that survived the abandonment of those who used it. My goal is to enhance the persistence of their identity and symbolic value across time and space.
Through my process, I address the contemporary myth of progress with an ecological sensibility that, despite the intrusiveness of technology, still survives in the current environmental emergency.
The phenomenon of recycling is not new but runs through all contemporary art. After centuries of precious materials, sophisticated techniques, and manual skills exhibited in the search for harmonious forms, the use of non-traditional materials in the creative process puts the idea, the ability to think rather than the ability to make, at the center.
Assembling objects found on the street, over the years I have produced a substantial body of works born out of the daily act of choosing, collecting, and rescuing from deterioration. In doing so, I aim to construct meanings and activate thought processes, for example, the idea that although discarded materials are poor and no longer useful, they still retain their qualities. They are discarded objects with a memory. And from memories, we can reconstruct stories otherwise doomed to oblivion. Basically, this is my way to state that both their and my identity should never lose value despite the looming of time.
My development as an artist has gone hand in hand with my growth as a person. Always dedicated to prioritizing the fundamental values of existence, such as awareness, love, and respect, I feel I can say that I have had an organic and coherent path, which of course at times has not always been easy to affirm especially in relation to the increasingly superficial tendencies of our society. But I felt that even suffering as an artist could be an additional tool to improve myself and grow. So I took my challenges as opportunities rather than obstacles.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I spend part of the year in Utah, specifically in Orem, a beautiful town-village surrounded by the Canyon Mountains. The landscapes here are monumental and often breathtaking. I would definitely take my friend for long walks in the mountains where the vegetation is rather sparse given the very dry desert climate, but the views open the mind and heart to contemplation of the vastness of the horizon. If my friend has the right preparation I would propose a good climb, but it is important that he has the right skills and nerves to tackle these rocks. Also nearby is the famous Great Salt Lake, the largest saltwater lake in the Western Hemisphere. It is located in the northern part of the US state of Utah and has a substantial impact on the local climate, particularly through lake effect snow. During the winter, when its surface is completely covered with snow, it offers the view of a surreal place seen only in fictional stories. As we are entering the summer, I would take my friend to relax in the many parks around. They are all beautiful and well kept, full of flowers and families of ducks that give birth to many little ducklings this season. I would then propose to my friend to eat good meat and baked potatoes at the Texas Roadhouse, a very typical place of the Far West culture, or in Carrabba for a Grill. Since I am an Italian doc, in the following days I would definitely take my friend to eat a pizza or some real spaghetti al ragu, or a lasagna in the oven or bruschetta. We have some good, upscale restaurants in Utah Valley and the Salt Lake area such as “Mastra Bakery” in American Fork, “Walter Nassi”, and “Veneto” in Salt Lake City.
I would also invite my friend to enjoy a very special ceremony at Taste in Provo where he can taste a bar of very fine chocolate.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There are many people to whom I must express my gratitude for what they have added to my life in terms of love, support, understanding and knowledge, given freely and unconditionally. First, my parents blessed me with a peaceful childhood and understood my talents and passions, always supporting my choices. I am grateful to my family, my husband and my children, who are also artists in different fields, providing me with a continuous ground for stimulating dialogue and confrontation. I thank my art masters, the great artists of the Italian avant-garde of the 1960s, through whose extraordinary innovations I was able to expand my vision of art and believe in choices of experimentation and risk, as long as they were strongly and sincerely felt. I thank my spiritual masters, people of profound wisdom, discernment, inner integrity and strength who clarified in me the deep meaning of life and helped me understand my true identity and eternal value.
Other: Other links to find my work: https://www.centerforlatterdaysaintarts.org/come-follow-me/2021/2/27/march-1-7-dampc-20-22-the-rise-of-the-church-of-christ https://newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org/article/church-history-museum-opens-exhibition-of-latter-day-saint-artists
I took all the pictures.