Santina Amato
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Santina Amato
Dame Joan Sutherland Fund recipient, Artist
Origin: Melbourne, Australia
Currently based: New York City

Melbourne born, Australian artist Santina Amato lives and works in New York, USA and is current Fellow at BRIC Media Arts House Fellowship Program, Brooklyn. She received a BFA in Painting (2007, Honours, 2009) from Victorian College of the Arts, Melbourne, Australia. Her practice combines performance, video, sculpture and site-specific contexts to explore the sensorial experience of femininity and the female identity within a surrealistic framework. Her work has been exhibited in numerous venues nationally and internationally within solo and group exhibitions.

Amato is a recipient of many awards including the American Australian Association’s Dame Joan Sutherland Fund (2014), NYFA (New York Foundation for the Arts) Mentoring Program for Immigrant Artists (2013), Australia Council for the Arts ArtStart Initiative (2012), Australia Council for the Arts New Work Early Career Grant (2012) Copyright Agency Limited Travel Grant, Australia (2010) and Ian Potter Cultural Trust Fund Travel Grant, Australia (2008) amongst many others.

She has participated in residency programs by Artspace Visual Arts Center, Sydney, Australia (2013); Blindside ARI, Melbourne, Australia (2013); Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia (2012); New York Art Residency and Studios Foundation, New York, U.S.A (2012); Kala Art Institute, Berkeley, U.S.A (2010); Art Channel, Beijing, China (2008) and Platform China Contemporary Art Institute, Beijing, China (2008).

Her work has been exhibited in numerous venues nationally and internationally within solo and group exhibitions such as the Detroit International Videonale, Kuntshalle Detroit Museum of Contemporary Art, MI, U.S.A (2013), New York Foundation for the Arts, NY, U.S.A (2013), Hatched, Northside Film Festival, New York, U.S.A (2012), Currents 2012, International New Media Arts Festival, Santa Fe, U.S.A (2012); The Substation Centre for Art & Culture, Melbourne, Australia (2012), Centre for Contemporary Photography, Melbourne, Australia (2008); Zendai Museum of Modern Art, Shanghai, China (2008).

Santina Amato is represented by Melbourne Art Rooms (MARS) Gallery in Melbourne, Australia.


Who are you as an artist?
What prompted you to come to the US?
I won the Greencard lottery in 2013 but initially, it was the J1 visa opportunity after graduating from BFA at the Victorian College of the Arts, Melbourne, Australia in 2009. Since then, I have spent half my time in the U.S and the other half in Melbourne, but as of February this year, I am permanently located in NYC! YAY!

What did your course/project involve?
The BRIC Media Education and Contemporary Art program sponsors the BRIC Media Arts Fellowship. The Fellowship makes BRIC Media Education courses and facilities available to professional Brooklyn-affiliated visual artists at no charge. Training is provided through programs and technical assistance in video and digital production and in post-production technologies. This opportunity has allowed me to update my skills, develop new ones and widen my arts practice into new mediums such as photography.

What were the highlights of your experience?
I am currently still a Fellow at BRIC Media Arts House. As a Fellow, the program has allowed me to open up my network here and so far, I have been asked to include a work in an exhibition that opened in Bushwick for the Bushwick Open Studio event. I think the highlight during my time so far as a Fellow at BRIC Media Arts House is having access to all their classes, use their amazing film and TV quality equipment and meet local producers of Brooklyn.
Where did you find inspiration?
My work shows up as constructed images in my mind. They are like flashes of images, maybe like commercials on TV. I see the images clearly and try my best to replicate them into real life. I enjoy the process of trying, as much as seeing if I can pull off the end result to look just like the images that were flashed at me. I also enjoy watching David Lynch's films, especially his series titled Rabbits. That always sends me into a great space for making. At the moment, I am totally enamored with Australian photographer Polly Borlands work. She is now based in LA and her photographic works have inspired me to investigate the potential of the medium.
What will you take away from this experience?
I think the best thing I will take away is an opening up of my arts network. Moving to a new city is especially daunting for an artist as we frequently fly solo within our studios and it's really hard to meet other artists outside of a program such as this. The instant connection we all have breaks the ice so to speak and allows us to connect instantly.
What is your favorite piece of work that resulted from this experience?
That is yet to come! I'm excited to share later this year!
What are you currently working on?
A photographic series based on soft sculptures I am currently creating out of pantyhose, hair, cosmetic jewelry and hair accessories. The photographs will be a separate body of work to the sculptures, focusing in on details of the sculptures using a torch (flashlight in American English!) as lighting. They will be abstract representations of the sculptures. I am also experimenting with creating a video series of the photographic works. I'm very excited! As the lighting is quite specific, I am working when the sun goes down and it seems to suit me very well!

What is your vision for the future?
To become financially dependent on my artwork. I would LOVE to give up working part time to support my practice and fully engage with my work on a full-time basis. To create all day, everyday is my absolute dream! Oh and a museum show would be lovely too! Anyone know someone?!?! LOL!

What advice would you give other artists aspiring to come to the US?

I would say do your research on programs that are available in the city you are interested in. I think programs such as residencies are a great way to be introduced into a city and the city's artworld. Oh, and make sure you don't plan to move to NYC in the winter!!!! It took me two months to find a room as no one moves during a New York winter!!!
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