A sustainable artist, South Carolina’s Flavia Lovatelli creates contemporary paper sculptures from old books, recycled magazines — and more.
The artist: Born in Lima, Peru, she moved back to northern Italy as a young child. In high school, she won numerous prizes and awards for her art. In 1979, Lovatelli moved to the United States and later settled in Columbia, SC. As a self-taught artist, she has tried most media, but turned to twirling paper in 2009.
The studio: In a finished attic that she can use as a studio, the artist keeps some of her working pieces, paints and bins of recycled materials. A large garage also stores larger recycled pieces for her projects.
In her dining room, living room and hallway, Lovatelli has several cabinets, where she stashes containers full of paper coils, tools and glue. When she is working, she prefers to stand at her dining room table.
Organized and tidy, she says her home doesn’t look like a studio most days.
Art + materials: Assemblage sculptures made from recycled materials.
In the past, some of her eco-assemblages included salvaged wood and cardboard tubes, egg crate packages and Nespresso coffee pots.As part of a “Great Barrier” environmental installation she created plastic and paper urchins, corals and sponges.
Now, she is making sculptures, mostly “spores,” with recycled paper from books, magazines and junk mail. Also gift tissue paper.
- Cuts the recycled paper into strips. She uses an office paper cutter to cut magazine and book pages in half – as a standard size.
- Rolls the paper strips into straws with the help of a skewer, and flattens them. Using a quilling tool, she rolls the paper into coils (tightly rolled circles) and later shapes them into cones, domes and tentacles.
- For the spores, she makes a paper Mache shell out of recycled gift tissue paper, which takes 12 hours to cure.
- Glues the coils to the shell.
- Selects the design and proceeds to make the coils work with that design.
The process takes several days.
What’s popular: Spore sculptures ($150 to $2,000). Inspired by nature, the spores contain recycled scraps, including old buttons, broken jewelry or other things that can sound like seeds.
Special event: Participates in an annual trashion show (trash fashion) where the wearable creations she creates are made with a myriad of materials, including paper coils, CD’s, VHS cassette tapes, used dryer sheets and plastic bags.
Past trashion shows have been in Orlando (2016) and New Orleans (2017). Upcoming shows include ArtPop in Charlotte (Nov. 13) and ecoFAB, which she organizes, in 2022 in Columbia.
Honors/awards: Many including:
- Winning ArtPop Charlotte event, in 2014.
- Participated in ArtFields in Lake City, SC, for four years in a row.
- Selected to be in the one-year traveling exhibition by the Palmetto Hands Fine Craft Competition in Charleston, 2021. Previously, she won honorable mention in the competition three years in a row.
- First place in 3D mix media at the SC State Fair, 2021.
- Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show, Nov. 4-7.
- ArtPop Upcycled Fashion Show, Charlotte, Nov. 13, a fund-raising event for artists.
- The 701 CCA SC Biennial in Columbia, Nov. 18 to Dec. 23. The two-part event showcases some of the best contemporary art created in South Carolina.
Where to see + buy:
- saatchiart.com for larger pieces (search Flavia Lovatelli)
- etsy.com for spores (search Flavia Lovatelli)
Get social at:
- Facebook: flavialovatellisart
- Instagram: @flavatelli