In this artist interview, we take you on a journey to Tuscany, the home of Leonardo da Vinci, Michaelangelo, Brunelleschi, Donatello, Giotto, Modigliani and Emma Kathleen Hepburn Ferrer. In contrast to the grandmasters, she has lived several years across the big pond in Los Angeles and New York where she worked as a tutor, curator, artist and actress. However, her love for Italy made her return home. Currently, Emma Ferrer resides in a beautiful small village in Tuscany, Italy where she works, writes and follows her passion for painting.
„Italy feels like home to me because I am connected to the culture and way of living. Nonetheless, in Europe, I feel American and in the US I feel European.“
After finishing her degree at the Florence Academy of Art, she decided to move to Brooklyn, New York where she lived with six different artists. After six years of experiencing the hasty way of life in New York, she decided to focus on the things that make her happy. „Coming from New York to a small village in Tuscany, where the roads are too small for cars to get through, is an extreme change of pace. The lifestyle is better for me. I have more space, freedom and an awesome studio to work.“
One can tell that it is the right choice for her seeing how happy she smiles talking about her move from the US to Italy. Her happiness also results from the fact that she is now back in school and can pursue her career in the art world by studying art history and maybe chasing a PhD. This way she can combine her passion for painting with her enthusiasm towards studying and writing. The perfect fit for free expression.
Figurative and loose
Just like in our previous artist interview with Leila Pinto, Emma Ferrer also learned the painting skills of the old masters during her studies at the Florence Academy of Art. „Having to study all major painting techniques is simultaneously the worst and best thing.“, she says. As a young ambitious painter, it is probably difficult to hold back his or her creativity.
„My style was a reaction against everything that I have studied – a rebellion against the school that said „Focus the least possible on creativity and stay with nature„.“ But that’s just one side of the coin. At a later stage, she could fully appreciate the skillsets. Today she has all the tools at her disposal. This way she also learned how to work on sculptures.
While Leila Pinto uses an abstract way of painting, to express experience with Wall Street, Emma tries to paint more figuratively in a loose way. Her style developed over time. Just like a winemaker, an artist needs to understand and practice the craft before developing their own way of working. In both worlds, wine and art, the communicational exchange is crucial. That is why Emma Ferrer has many different artist friends that give honest feedback. Yet, not everyone’s opinion matters. In some cases, even family members cannot fully see the message of a painting, which is fine. It can already be highly appreciated if just a few people understand the meaning and share their thoughts about it.
Currently, Emma Ferrer works on a painting series called festivities. Weddings, anniversaries, political or religious celebrations are mostly social gatherings that we connotate with joy and happiness. However, we all know opposite feelings of discomfort, nostalgia or melancholy that may arise in social settings. In some paintings, one can see some similarities to Edward Munch’s „Melancholy“.
Despite her young age, Emma has already worked multiple jobs. She was able to try out several different professions during her time in the US, especially after she finished her studies. It seems like there are always parallel things she pursues. But painting remains her glue. She actually started when she was 5 years old. 10 years later she already had her first portfolio. It always felt and still feels good, she says.
Having gained different experiences over the past, Emma tries to focus on situations rather than on studies on people. It is the interpersonal dynamic she tries to express with her painting style. Her art stirs a dialogue that can easily lead to an explorative discussion.
Her inspiration derives not just from her experience but also from her studies of famous painters like Arnold Böcklin, Andrew Wyeth, Edward Hopper or Giorgio de Chirico. Looking at her works so far one can tell that Emma Ferrer is very attentive to details.
Her way to the gallery and success
Her works are now exhibited by a New York gallery for the first time. „It is very exciting and I am super happy to work with the director of the gallery. She is like an adoptive mother to me and my mentor.“, Emma says. Besides long conversations about what to do differently, she receives honest feedback which is very useful to her. It opens up new perspectives. No wonder it is going really well although it is just the very beginning of her exhibitions.
In a world where success is no longer just linked to talent, Emma Ferrer realizes that beautiful work is appreciated differently. Meritocracy nowadays gives room for people who are maybe better at presenting their work. The art world has changed over the years. There are many controversial opinions about hyper contemporary art but Emma Ferrer has appreciation and respect for it. For her, it opens new perspectives.
One key to success is social media. „I fought it for a while and took a long break because it can be very toxic. Today I sell most of my work from Instagram. But it took four days of detoxing. I unfollowed various model or fashion accounts. Today my Insta is full of art and dogs.“, she smiles.