The office was covered in an array of drawings, paintings and sketches. Her desk was a little messy, but in an artistic way. Artist Laura Mongiovi, art professor at Flagler College, fiddled with some papers as she considered what it was that had led her to become an artist.
“It was something I always knew I wanted to do. It was curiosity about experiences, freedom with imagination and how things come about. Curiosity links directly to what I do today,” she said.
Mongiovi, originally from Tarpons Spring, Fla, relocated to University of Colorado Boulder for graduate school. After she made her way back to the sunny coast of Florida, she settled at Flagler College to balance both her teaching career and her artistic one.
“The program here is extremely strong. There’s dedicated faculty exercising their talents. This is the environment students should have; being around people who practice what they preach,” she said.
That is just what Mongiovi has been doing.
She recently presented at the Plum Contemporary Art Gallery on Aviles St. in downtown St. Augustine.
Described as a breath of fresh intellect by gallery founder Karen Sheridan, Mongiovi show-cased her exhibit and hosted a meet and greet.
Through her art Mongiovi seeks to explore personal experiences, reactions, escapism and origins.
“I research why we make decisions about certain experiences, sensual experiences, both individually and culturally. Take the color purple, the color of exploring the world. Purple dye came from fish and it was the color of royalty, who had the money to send explorers. I look at history and origins,” she said.
As with most artists, Mongiovi’s motivations stemmed from her inspirations and influences. She had great, supportive professors, who taught her a base of knowledge but allowed her the freedom to explore.
“I valued that experience, and so I continue that experience. As a student we rely on teachers to recognize our abilities and guide us. A committed teacher and a committed student makes for a great partnership,” she said.
Once that partnership is founded, it is then Mongiovi’s charge to instill an essential message within her student’s minds. She says the most important thing an artist can have is perseverance.
“The message I try to get across to students is keep making and keep producing. Practice art making all the time. Art is visually communicating, it is visual language. Practice anything else you want,” she said.
Following her own message, Mongiovi commits herself to her own artistic future. She dreams of more space to do more installations. She hopes to obtain a large space to create an environment where she can visually communicate her ideas.
Most students come to Flagler following their dreams, and so it is fulfilling to recognize that many of the professors who guide them through their college careers, are indeed journeying down the same path students one day hope to trek.
Experience may be the best teacher, and so when Flagler’s professors are practicing in the fields they preach they are faced everyday with new experiences.
As professors grow this way, students are able to acknowledge that they are learning from personal insight that their dreams are possible.