Last weekend I was thrilled to have the opportunity to check out the Superfine Art Fair in SoHo, courtesy of NYC Unplugged. Greeted at the door warmly by staff, I observed artists and patrons intermixed admiring art and exchanging thoughts. It was honestly such a pleasant vibe in there, I allowed my eyes to wander the different types of art displayed. The lighting was amazing, plants adorned bamboo chairs and I felt transported to an oasis. One area caught my eye more than the rest. My eyes locked onto a beautiful portrait of a plus sized woman in a bubble bath, blissfully eating a slice of pizza. That woman was me. Not literally but figuratively, as I got closer I felt as though a story was being told; a story of bravery and self love and I needed to hear more.
I had the pleasure of meeting New York based Artist Elisa Valenti, and let me say I felt like I was meant to meet her. Empowered by her work she kindly took her time explaining each piece of artwork, with such detail you felt her exude self love. A plant hanging next to her paintings she explained, was actually her Mother’s who sadly passed away a few years ago. The plant has flourished and now was here next to her artwork, as a living memory of her mother; that detail touched my heart as I also lost my Mother. The aesthetic was everything, plants also represented in her artwork because nature is essential to her essence. Valenti took me on a journey, her journey of becoming. The first piece named Confidence on the rocks; An actual self portrait of herself on vacation. Inspired by a photo she had locked away for three years on her phone, because she was too embarrassed to show it. Very relatable to how I’ve felt about myself in the past, noticing all the imperfections of my plus sized body. She eventually decides to paint this photo and realizes how beautiful it was and her journey to empowerment began. She continues thru her artwork showing a more & more confident woman , leading up to the painting that initially caught my eye Pizza Girl. A no fucks giving, embrace yourself, self love Woman. And she realized it never mattered what size her body was, it’s about the glowing energy she was exuding. When I tell you I felt like she was speaking about me!!! It was incredible.
One is my favorite details of her artwork is how she described her paint palette : “ The palette I use is a deconstructed skin tone. Just using a few basic colors, I can create all skin tones. Underneath our outward facades, we are all just different shades of the same colors.” Her strong message of body positivity resonated to me, I knew I needed to hear more of what inspired her. She says “ I grew up in the era of the Cindy Crawford, Elle McPherson etc. Tall, blonde, thin models were the essence of beauty. Subconsciously seeing these images conditions one to believe what beauty is supposed to be. I grew up the opposite of what I was seeing. I grew up with a complex about how I looked and that took a tole on my self esteem and self worth. For years, I fought my body with diets and exercise. And at a few points in my life, I won. I was fit and thinner. But when I look back at those images of myself, I remember how much angst I felt internally. I couldn’t appreciate the hard work I put in and could only feel the self loathing. My mental health was not in balance with my physical health. It took years before they would be in balance. It took painting images of myself in the form that caused so much mental distress for me to finally love it. With each stroke, with each imperfection I paint, the more beauty I feel. The more I want other women to feel they can be who they are and come closer to that mind and body balance”.
A special thank you to Elisa Valenti for sharing so transparently your journey to self discovery and empowerment. To think how she quit her job as Pharmacy Director in October 2018, and is now showcasing her amazing art in this huge art venue is so inspiring. Your story touched me and I knew I had to share it. Her work is available for commission and showing. Please contact info@ElisaValentiStudio.com to learn more, and follow her on Instagram @elisavalentistudio.