‘Nontraditional’ artist finds home at FIU

Cayla Bush/Staff Writer

For Raffaele Ammavuta, the road not traveled has made all the difference.

Growing up in Florence, Italy, the junior communication arts major had an early exposure to art that shaped the trajectory of his life, which would come to include battling a culture which overlooked the young and poor, and enrolling at the University for his bachelor’s degree as a nontraditional student.

“I’ve been an artist since the mid ‘80s. Back then it was in Florence, where I was born and grew up,” Ammavuta said. “It was an interesting and difficult time, because being the cradle of the Renaissance, Florence is so concentrated on preserving the Renaissance. For young artists it was difficult to find venues and galleries because the culture there is that you’re recognized when you die.”

Dedicated to sharing his craft with members of his community, Ammavuta teamed up with other artists to find a viable solution to being neglected.

“We kind of organized a movement of young artists and we really wanted to show our stuff out of the mainstream. Outside of the white cubes that privileged only recognized and famous artists. So, I started to show in unconventional places like empty apartments in the city, farms in the countryside, warehouses in the industrial outskirts and clubs. That’s how I started,” Ammavuta said.

Ammavuta has traveled the world showing his pop art, culminating in his new collection being shown in the Graham Center Student Art Gallery through April 5.

The collection, titled “Pebbles, Symbols, Ideograms: The Dawn of Communication,” is a visual history of communication, the story of a tribe and the progression of written letter displayed on multicolored backgrounds.

“I’d had this idea for a while. Basically, what I wanted to explore was how the graphic symbol evolved in terms of communication. What you’re going to see in the gallery is the origins of communication, and how primitive man used to draw on little pebbles just to have something ‘written down,’” Ammavuta said. “That symbolism was transmitted as a process, and I imagined myself speculating how did this went forward. So, I imagined from the pebble going to the caves.”

Ammavuta’s collection takes viewers on the journey to the present day alphabet used in communication, a journey of reflection and historical research that showed the progression from symbolism to lettering, and how each language and letter is connected.

According to Ammavuta, the collection fits with the University’s “World’s Ahead” slogan, as it focuses on globalization and the exchange of global information.

“If you think of it, the concept of globalization that we think is a contemporary concept, it always existed. When you see the work, you see the tribe establishing in one place, being there for a while and then moving on,” Ammavuta said. “That’s what’s happening today. Globalization is the trading, and movement of goods. So we think that globalization is a recent event in history but it’s really not.”

Understanding the importance of traveling and having a global perspective compelled the artist to attend the University to complete his studies. However, always learning and becoming an artist, according to Ammavuta, is something that takes perseverance but cannot be taken from those who dedicated.

“It’s very easy. You just produce some art, you work on a concept, and you try to find venues for your work. It’s a competitive market, so you have to be patient, you have to have a lot of perseverance and determination, but in the end if you really want to do that, nobody will stop you,” Ammavuta said.

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