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Artist Franco Mondini-Ruiz to lecture Feb. 11

Austin Peay presents lawyer-turned-artist Franco Mondini-Ruiz as part of the 2003-04 Creative Capital Artist Lecture Series.

The lecture will begin at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 11, in Trahern 401.

Becoming a successful corporate lawyer presented Mondini with the opportunity to buy art. Leaving his prestigious San Antonio law firm presented him with the opportunity to create art.

I knew I wanted to be an artist. I wanted to …get rid of all this stuff I had in my house, recalls Mondini.

An old botanica fulfilled both his wants.
Austin Peay presents lawyer-turned-artist Franco Mondini-Ruiz as part of the 2003-04 Creative Capital Artist Lecture Series.

The lecture will begin at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 11, in Trahern 401.

Becoming a successful corporate lawyer presented Mondini with the opportunity to buy art. Leaving his prestigious San Antonio law firm presented him with the opportunity to create art.

“I knew I wanted to be an artist. I wanted to …get rid of all this stuff I had in my house,” recalls Mondini.

An old botanica fulfilled both his wants.

“It was, like, 80 years old. A treasure. So I took it over and added my own stuff. Before I knew it, I had a contemporary art gallery, a botanica, an antique shop and a salon going on!” Mondini says of Infinito Botanica.

Quickly capturing the international art world's attention, Mondini soon found himself creating “colorful installations of found and manipulated objects” at venues around the world. “I've gone global with the Infinito Botanica, and I try to adapt it to wherever I am,” he says.

Adapting the art to the location in which he is performing allows for cultural resonance. In Helsinki, Mondini referenced the tradition of Finnish glass art by having glass blowers create sophisticated, distorted glass bottles.

“It all looked very modern and artistic,” Mondini says. “Yet glass bottles are also something you'll find at a tacky marketplace in Tijuana. In Finland, I made them into something very high-class …once again, interweaving high and low art.”

Crediting his “vibrant, kitschy and absolutely ravishing” installations to the Latino tradition of looking at and living with art in a sophisticated way, Mondini declares that his purpose is to “recontextualize.”

“I am part Anglo, and I am a lawyer,” he says. “At the same time, I am part Latino, and I am from a humble working-class background. I've spent my life mediating between worlds.”

Creative Capital is a national nonprofit organization that supports artists pursuing innovative approaches to form and content in the media, performing and visual arts in emerging fields. For more information, telephone 7789.
—Terry Stringer