I like to think of myself as a crafter of visual stories. I attempt to create drawings that provide more questions than answers, more ambiguity than certainty. My intention is to leave the viewer with an open ended narrative that allows one to fill in the blanks from their own personal experiences.
I grew up in Syracuse, New York with an unconventional family that instilled in me an appreciation for bird watching, collecting antique typewriters, and art. My relationship with art was formed inside the walls of the Everson Museum where my grandfather served on the Board of Directors, and by watching my grandmother create ornate pieces with needlepoint. These two factors served to inspire my great love for art history and attention to detail.
I received my Bachelor’s degree in Studio in Art and Art History from Nazareth College, and my Masters in Art Education from Rochester Institute of Technology. For the past 13 years, I have been an Art Teacher at Batavia High School. I love my job. It’s a unique opportunity that enables me to be constantly in the company of other artists. I love the give and take of ideas, and the constant progression of concepts and materials that come with being an educator. My students keep me on my toes, pushing me with their talent and insight to become a better artist while I help them to find their own artistic voice. Nearly everyday, they give me hope for the next generation of creative thinkers.
I like to invite my students into my creative process. Aside from talking through my concepts and symbolism, many of them have become my subjects for my portraits. They never seem to mind when I ask them to make weird faces or pose in a certain way.
My work as a whole is best described as Pop Surrealism, though I try my best not to label myself too strictly as I don’t want the identification to become a limitation. While I will use a variety of materials, I generally use mostly colored pencil and graphite. I love the control and versatility of my colored pencils; I love the feel of a sharp pencil and the look of a sharp edge. However, I also love the way in which colored pencil allows me to build subtle layers, like a recipe for the perfect color.
I generally don’t have a finished concept in my mind when I start a piece. Rather, I like to start with a story in mind, or a picture I have taken, and let the creative process dictate my direction. My best ideas come from the act of making, so it’s not uncommon for me to have five or six drawings in various states of completion as I work.
My work explores the themes of mental illness, loss, and the fragility of life. I like to think of my drawings as a visual memoir of the struggles and achievements of myself and the others I share my life with. My drawings often include the human form in some way, whether it’s with portraits or hands. I am drawn to the automatic sense of emotion that comes with portraying the human form. I want my work to tell a symbolic story of the strength of the individual while still leaving the details to the interpretation of the observer. My drawings attempt to show the vulnerability of my subject, their precarious and fantastical reality, and the effects their mental state has made in their lives.
I tend to use a lot of pattern in my work as a design and symbolic element. I am particularly drawn to the honeycomb pattern because it stands as a reminder that beauty can be born from chaos. I feel like I’m just scratching the surface as to where I am headed in terms of my use of pattern; I’m excited to see where the process will take me.
When I’m not at school or in my studio, I can be found at home in Geneseo with my husband and two children, surrounded by cornfields and distant horizon lines.
My work can be found at www.mandiantonucci.com or on Instagram @skywardagain
Stop by Main Street Arts to see Mandi’s work in our current exhibition “Utopia/Dystopia” (juried by John Massier, curator at Hallwalls Contemporary Art Center in Buffalo, NY). The exhibition runs through June 30, 2017. Mandi’s piece, “Boy Wonder”, is also available for purchase in our online gallery shop: store.mainstreetartsgallery.com