Holly Colaguori and I met two years ago at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, when we were both beginning our journey as candidates for a Master of Fine Arts. Dedicated to her craft and with a clear vision of her work, Holly also brings a sweet spirit and optimism to everyone who meets her.
Here, Eyelevel gets to hear the inner workings of Holly’s process.
J: Holly, tell us a little bit about your work.
H: My work centers mostly around psychological drama and the emotional transitions and situations that we feel every day as human beings. We are all capable of great change and emotional transition, so my work tends to illustrate and embody some of those changes. My hope is that through my work that we can connect to those emotions in ways that we normally wouldn’t every day.
J: Interesting. What is your medium?
H: I think of myself as a painter, primarily with oil, although recently I have been incorporating other types of media such as wax, photo emulsion, wood, even salt, depending on the content of the narrative.
J: Wow, that is pretty cool that the subject of the work sometimes dictates the materials that you use.
H: That would be fair to say. I like to have a good dialogue between what’s going on in the work and the choice of media.
J: So what got you interested in art originally?
H: Well I’ve always been doing art as long as I can remember, since I was younger…I was always doing drawing and watercolors, sketching out characters to little stories that I would write, making little objects for the holidays…but I guess I started to seriously pursue it during college and then grad school, when I became fairly certain that art would be my career path, particularly painting.
J: Were you always interested in the idea of psychological dramas?
H: Maybe to an extent although I wasn’t always aware of what that driving force was: I didn’t have a name for it. I was always pretty interested in people. I love people, I love painting them, and I’ve always kind of been driven by that. I used to be involved in theatre, so the little dramas onstage and the whole idea of drama in the theatre really ties into my work.
J: So you like the idea of art that tells a story and has a narrative to it?
H: Yes, I would say so.
J: So what does your background and education in art look like?
H: I studied at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, and I studied both art and Italian. I concentrated on painting the figure, and also had the opportunity to study in Rome for a month, through the study abroad program there. It was headed by the New York Studio School; I had a scholarship there. I had a great time painting outside, which was outside my comfort zone, but it really pushed me and tested me, in all different types of subject matter, not just the figure.
J: How did you enjoy your time here in the MFA program at PAFA?
H: I really loved it. I started out figure painting, and what drew me here was the traditional background of PAFA. However since the I’ve learned it’s the best of both worlds…it’s gotten me ready for where I am now, which is entering the art world as a contemporary painter, and it also gave me that traditional technical practice and legacy that I was after.
J: So what are your future aspirations?
H: I am looking to get into a gallery in the Philadelphia or New York area, but in the meantime getting into as many group shows as possible, and putting my work out there.
J: Wonderful…thank you so much Holly, and I look forward to seeing where your work and aspirations take you in the future!
Holly Colagori’s work can be seen at www.hollycolaguori.com.
Article by Jessica Libor