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Q&A with Mixed-Media Artist Donald Cicconi

Artist Self-Portrait by Donald Cicconi.
Artist Self-Portrait by Donald Cicconi.

Donald Cicconi makes art with photographs, handmade paper, wood block prints, acrylic paint, and a strong influence from Japanese art. His mixed-media Artist Self-Portrait, above, caught the eye of Kim Levin, who juried June’s “Neo-Expressionism” exhibit and awarded it the Anne Banks Collage Award. We asked the artist to tell us more about his motivations and influences.

What was your goal with this self-portrait?
Donald Cicconi: I didn’t have a specific goal in mind; I never do. I am only interested in creating interesting images that will attract the viewer’s attention. It is up to the viewer to interpret the image.

What materials did you use?
I took several photographs of two different self-portraits I did many years ago in college. I cut them up and arranged them into what I though was an interesting image. I added some rice paper and acrylic to finish it off.

What appeals to you about working in collage or mixed media?
My problem is I like all media. I work with collage, woodblocks, photography, handmade paper and acrylics. I have tried photo etchings in college and I have several ideas that I hope to work on one.

Whatever media I think will make the image I have in mind.

Blue Moon, Donald Cicconi, 2010
Blue Moon, Donald Cicconi, 2010

Some of your work in past Art League shows has been made with handmade paper. What role does it play in your work?
Nothing special about working with handmade paper it is just another printmaking technique that works.

What are you working on now?
I am working several variations of the self-portrait, several cast handmade paper images and several woodblock prints.

When did you know you wanted to be an artist?
I have always been interested in art and starting drawing when I was in grade school but being an artist was never something I thought of as a job or career; I still don’t. I started college in graphic design at a community college in upstate NY then transferred to a four-year college in upstate NY for studio arts. After college I went back into the military and spent 21 years in the military. The only art I did while in the Army was photography. I retired from the Army and now work for DoD doing what I did in the military, satellite communications. My art is something I do when I have time; it’s more of a hobby. I do it because I like it, I get ideas and I like to work on them to see how they come out. I don’t think I can make a living with my art, it takes too much time and too much money and no one buys the art unless they think it is a good investment. I don’t believe art should be considered an investment.

Who are your major artistic influences?
Two Japanese printmakers, Kiyoshie Saito and Haku Maki.

I spent eight years in Asia, six years in Japan and I fell in love with Japanese woodblock prints. Haku Maki and Kiyoshie Saito are just 2 of my favorite Japanese artists. Most of my art involves woodblock prints and I start out doing block prints using a style like Haku Maki. I have several ideas for woodblock prints using some of the ideas or style of Saito that I want to work on, it’s just having the time. I usually print my woodblock on my handmade paper then combine it into a handmade paper collage so I really don’t do editions. They are usually one of a kind. One day I will get around to doing editions, again it’s a matter of time. I live in Dale City but work up at Ft. Meade doing satellite operations for the military so that doesn’t leave a lot of time for art or much else.

Four Nothings, Donald Cicconi, 2011
Four Nothings, Donald Cicconi, 2011

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