GABRIELLA DITALIA

CH.89: If you were to categorize or describe the style of your artwork, what would it be and why?

GD: My work is material contemplation; it has always been interdisciplinary. I am endlessly curious and at some point realized that the path to wisdom was active, embodied, and material.

CH.89: Where do you draw your inspiration from?

GD: I draw my inspiration from luxury. I think of luxury as the small, material things that bring me into presence: the quality of light in a room, walks through the woods, what other people wear, patterned wallpaper and textiles, the first birdsong in spring, quilts. The things that wake me up. When it’s not luxury, it’s discomfort of some sort. 

CH.89: Can you talk a little bit about what your creative thought process is like when starting a new project/ piece of artwork?

GD: I have to find the line between control and letting go. I usually set up processes or systems for making work and within that framework, I am an observer. Quilting is a great example. There is a pattern, but once that’s established, there is room for improvisation and infinite arrangements of color, print, texture, scale. There’s even room to break from the pattern completely. Systems are clarifying even when they’re broken.

CH.89: Is there anything in particular that you would want people to take from your artwork?

GD: I hope there is resonance, that intuitive feeling of already knowing the thing that you are ostensibly experiencing for the first time. It’s the feeling of not being alone. 

CH.89: Can you talk a little bit about your lifestyle as an artist and what that is like?

GD: “Always choose queer.” I’ve always been sensitive to the experience of discomfort when I encounter convention that is not aligned with my truth. A simple way to say that might be the feeling of not belonging. There have been many times when my intuition or my personal experience has been at odds with my family, friends, culture, even those with whom I’ve been in intimate relationships. Queerness then becomes an ethical territory. It means choosing the truth, even if there’s great personal cost. This expands a space for everyone to be a little more safe. This is the same in art and in life. 

CH.89: When starting out an artistic task, do you think it is better to have a particular direction/set plan guiding your way? Or, is it better to act on impulse and go from there?

GD: Both. I think the development of style as an artist or as a person is about the magical intersection between body and spirit, material and mind. I see this in the image of double dutch. You rock back and forth, finding the rhythm, learning the moves, and then you jump in, part of a system. The trick is leaning into that interconnection, surrendering, while still being present enough in the material to have agency.

CH.89: What is one major lesson you’ve learned as an artist thus far?

GD: Wisdom is embodied.

CH.89: Do you regard personal style & taste to be of highest importance?

GD: Style is a mirror, reflecting back the truest representation of who we are, and a lens, the framework through which we can reshape our perspective—what we see and how we see. I think of personal style and artistic style as the most human pursuit. It gets at the heart of what it means to be an embodied spirit. Style is never still; it’s a living thing.

CH.89: What do you consider to be the hardest thing about being an artist?

GD: Being an artist means being in process. The world often seems to demand ends, products, definitions, answers, brands. It’s hard to accept uncertainty. I think it’s really the hardest thing about being human. We are pressured to compartmentalize, to fragment. 

CH.89: What is one thing you love about being an artist?

GD: Living the connection between my ideas, values and my material experience. 

CH.89: Is there anyone in particular, any artist’s that inspire you in any way?

GD: I’m inspired by the thousands of women who make and have made the most stunning quilts, to live humbly as magic in so many homes. These are material mantras. They are beauty incarnate. They transform the quality of everyday life. This living work in many ways rejects values that our culture espouses, like innovation. Instead, time-tested patterns are handed down, generation after generation. The technology often remains the same, too. A simple needle and thread guided by hand. In some way, the work seems to just unceremoniously deteriorate, to disappear with years of use. There seems to be something more true and more transformative about this kind of material culture and it can be apprehended in the beauty of the works. 

CH.89: What do you think of technology in terms of being a useful tool for artists today?

GD: Technology is a means. It’s a relationship. Technology is a bridge between the spirit and the material world, it has a material nature while also expressing values.

GD: I tend to prefer technologies, drawing, sewing, fashion, decor, that keep me close to my bodily metabolism because my work is about coming into a sustainable relationship with material experience. 

CH.89: Do you think being an artist allows you to view the world differently from those who don’t follow creative paths?

GD: Making art allows me to practice accessing and strengthening intuition in a way that I haven’t found in other areas of our culture. Perhaps it’s a kind of secular faith. I think making art enables me to value and even to prioritize difference, to value what is small. To know that uncertainty is possibility. 

CH.89: Do you enjoy traveling? If so, do you have a favorite city?

GD: In another life I lived on a ship and all of the world’s wonders came to me. That story feels alive still. I live in New York City. Nestled between the ocean and acres of rolling deciduous hills. Four beautiful seasons. It’s pretty hard to beat. I also feel an intense internal source of drive and energy that can easily become overloaded. My favorite place is my home and studio.

CH.89: Do you have a favorite author or book?

GD: Among several, Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet. 

CH.89: Any future goals or plans for your artwork?

GD: Connection. 

CH.89: What does being an artist mean to you?

GD: It means staying curious, choosing queer, and creating the space for others to do the same.

CH.89: What’s the last song you listened to?  

GD: Lampshades on Fire by Modest Mouse

CH.89: Any last words on the aesthetic of your artwork?

GD: Style is the practice of presence. Anicca. I know I’ll never stay the same, but I’m not alone.

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