We have decided to launch a new intimate style of interview into TheAppWhisperer – the world’s most popular mobile photography and art website. We feel it is important that our community feel close to each other, as it is this support that helps us to nurture one another, gain confidence and continue to grow.
This is our fourteenth interview, to read the others, please go here. Today, we are publishing this deeply absorbing, fluent and visual interview with talented mobile artist Rita Colantonio from Cape Cod, United States. Enjoy.
All images ©Rita Colantonio
What was your childhood or earliest ambition?
Believe it or not, I wanted to be a dancer. Music permeated by family. My father was a music teacher and I had piano lessons from an early age. When I heard music I wanted to dance, wherever I was. Later, I wanted a career on the stage as an actor. This dream stayed with me well into my thirties.
The earliest one that comes to mind was in second grade. My teacher, who was also an artist, held up my cloud drawing to the class and commented on how I drew the clouds as they really were, with flat bottoms, not as puff balls. For some reason that made me think I had a special way of seeing things. Later, all through elementary and high school, I was winning art awards from submissions my teachers would make to various organisations, like the Boston Globe newspaper and Archdiocesan Scholastic Art Awards.
My first job was a summer job at 16, working for the Comptroller’s Office at the State House in Boston. It was basic clerical support.
Private or state school?
From 6th grade on I attended Catholic schools. I went to a very small Catholic high school in Boston, with a graduating class of 36. It was a school focused on visual art and I had art classes 4 times a week.
University or Work?
State university. Unfortunately they did not offer a visual art major, which I wanted at the time. But I pursued an Education degree with a major in English. That’s when I developed my love of creative writing, literature (especially the Irish playwrights), and American beat poetry, like Allen Ginsberg. It wasn’t until later, in post grad that I was really immersed in art history and other art courses which would certify me as an art educator.
Who was or still is your mentor?
I don’t remember having a mentor. I would have loved one when I started teaching, but it wasn’t done then. I look for role models who do work that I would love to emulate and who inspire me. My husband, who has been by my side for 50 years (counting before we were married) has supported me and understood me in whatever I wanted to accomplish. He is incredibly smart, especially technically, which was my weak area. Without him, I can truly say, I would not be doing what I am doing today.
How physically fit are you?
Up until several years ago, I was fairly fit. Now age and genetics are catching up with me. I have constant joint pain and arthritis. I have foot surgery scheduled for the fall and possibly knee surgery in the future. But I really try to keep going, exercise, walk and ride my recumbent bike. I pay attention to my general health.
Ambition or Talent: What matters more to success?
That depends on the meaning of success. And it also depends on life stages. When I was younger success to me meant achieving a status that would bring fame or impact the world around me in some grand way. Then as a parent, success to me meant raising my children to be great, decent people. Later, as a teacher, success meant forming young minds and teaching children the wonderful value of creativity and art. Now success means reaching inside myself to create the best possible art that I am capable of. So, from my perspective, ambition has never played a major role. My talents have enabled me to become a good teacher and good artist. It is because of my talent and passion for the arts that I have followed this road in life, and my talent will continue to guide me ahead. Not my ambition.
How politically committed are you?
I can’t abide hypocrisy or pretentious grand standing. I would rather not say anything than to make statements just to make them. I care very much about the state of our human condition, especially because my grandchildren will have to live through it. But I feel incompetent to make any changes because of the powerful political machines that are determining our fate. Incompetent, disillusioned and powerless. But that’s just me. I try to live my life as best I can and hope to God that our world and my world will somehow survive.
What would you like to own that you don’t currently possess?
I am not a person who collects “things”. Things that do have value to me have sentimental value. Things that help me in my artistic endeavours are valuable to me. On reflecting on this question though, probably the only thing I would love to have would be a small house perched on a bluff overlooking the ocean. With a large window on the sea and a stone fireplace next to me. That would make me happy.
What’s your biggest extravagance?
My biggest extravagance, by far, is my Canon 5D Mark3 camera with lenses, my expensive Epson printer and my art studio.
In what place are you happiest?
I am happiest creating art on my iPad on my couch at home, which can definitely be a health hazard. I am happiest playing with my grandchildren. I am happiest being out in nature, walking through a forest or on the beach. I am happiest sitting in a jazz club listening to a great R&B band and dancing. I am definitely happiest taking photographs of people, especially when they’re not watching!
What ambitions do you still have?
I’d like to see more of Europe, while I still have the energy. I’d like to visit Giverny and Monet’s garden. And I’d like to travel by train along the West Coast of the U.S. and visit the National Parks.
What drives you on?
That one is easy. The creative spirit inside me. It is everpresent, all day, in everything I do and see. I become so involved in creating art that sometimes I feel guilty that it excludes other parts of my life or people around me. It is a strong force, and becomes stronger with everything I create. It envelops my being and when I cannot create I become frustrated and unhappy. I never have a lack of vision. New ones surprise me every day, new ideas, new ways to create. It is a wonderful way to go through life!
What is the greatest achievement of your life so far?
Without question, it is being a mother. I am blessed with two wonderful adult children who have incredible children of their own. It’s so amazing to see them grow up with the talents they have inherited from their parents. Nothing else can compare.
What do you find most irritating in other people?
People who pre-judge or dismiss you as before they get to know you. People who are so wrapped up in themselves that they control the conversation without being interested in what you have to say.
If your 20 year old self could see you now, what would she think?
She’d think, oh no! you didn’t make it to Broadway! But on the other hand, wow, you don’t look your age and you are actually still married, when all your friends aren’t! And, wait a minute, I thought you wanted to become a painter. And, how did you ever get to creating that kind of art and photography? It’s great!
Which object that you’ve lost do you wish you still had?
I’m a sentimentalist, and I’ve been lucky that I still have all the things that have a special value to me.
What is the greatest challenge of our time?
Possibly global warming. Even within the recent years it seems to have affected our climate. Humans need to face this challenge collectively to affect changes on a global scale. It’s very disturbing to see how the climate is being affected so quickly.
Do you believe in an afterlife?
I would like to. I go back and forth. There have been incidents that make me wonder, but the pragmatist in me wins out most of the time.
If you had to rate your satisfaction with your life so far, out of 10, what would you score?
I would score an 8. I have been blessed and so lucky. Sometimes I don’t think I deserve all the wonderful things that have come my way. But I’ll take them!
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