Photo by Faith Marie Lopez.
Stepping into Gioia Fonda’s Verge Center for the Arts studio, you’ll immediately get a sense of her personality. Her den of creativity radiates joy, the very meaning of her first name. In it, you’ll find drought tolerant plants made of discarded materials, psychedelic flags, intricately patterned canvases, scraps from her daily bike rides, projects to be graded…and lots and lots of forks.
Gioia Fonda considers herself to be an interdisciplinary artist (“the word ‘multimedia’ means something else nowadays”). “I switch genres all the time…what’s consistent with me is that my interests change.” What unites her seemingly disparate work is vibrant color and her attention detail (or tedium).
The Give A Fork Project:
Confirming her ever-changing nature is her latest project, Give a Fork. Playing off the phrase “give a f*&^”, the art project seeks to engage conversations about the Farm to Fork Capital’s relationship with food; she’s hoping to bring attention to food insecurity and its solutions while bolstering civic pride. The project is one of three key social practice artworks developed as part of the Crocker Art Museum’s Block by Block Art +Impact initiative, which aims to bring innovative and engaging art projects to City of Sacramento Districts 2, 5, and 8 (her project will serve her District 5 neighborhood). The vision for the temporary art installation is to create a sparkling strip of layered forks that mimics the flow of water (“Think the back of an Alhambra Water delivery truck”).
To do so, she’ll need thousands of forks from the community; so far she’s collected 500. In the process of collecting these forks, she’s hoping to learn about the hidden stories behind the utensils she receives, or as she likes to call them, “fork stories.” (To learn how you could donate a fork, scroll down to “Give A Fork Drop-off Locations”)
While she is still scouting for the perfect sculpture location, she recognizes that creating the piece isn’t the end-all be-all for the project. “The sweat equity, the relationships formed, the fun had, and the civic pride built through collaboration…will have a positive and lasting impact…probably more so than the actual sculpture [itself].”
Gioia received a $10K grant from the James Irvine Foundation, but she is looking to raise another $10K to build the piece and also create interactive activities around it. “I’d love to work with local restaurants and businesses to create a ‘District 5 Dream Date’ contest where people can win a chance to do the things that they love or would love to do in our backyard.“
The Teaching Artist:
Since 2006, Gioia has been teaching art at Sacramento City College, mostly painting courses. While the job helps pay the bills, for her, teaching strikes at the heart of what it means to be an artist: “Arts make a healthy society, adding vibrancy and civic healing to everyday life. Artists have the hard task of convincing people that they need art…and this education isn’t just for kids; adults need to learn about art too.” At Sacramento City College she finds the “best potpourri of humans”, where mostly everyone is receptive to learning and are looking to improve.
“Once students are exposed to art, they are curious to learn about everything.”
Outlook for 2016:
There’s a lot on her plate this year, but that’s always the case — “I never stay not busy.” Through July, nearly 100 percent of her time will be dedicated to completing the Give a Fork project. (“I swear I’ll be eating with chopsticks after this project.”) She’ll be speaking at conferences in April and May, curating a ceramics exhibit at the E Street Gallery, and traveling to North Dakota’s Badlands National Park with her Star Wars-loving husband. And whenever she has free time, she’d like to squeeze in some time to paint.
Fast Facts About Gioia:
Give A Fork Drop-off Locations:
Help Gioia complete her Crocker Art Museum Block by Block Art + Impact project by donating your utensils at one of these venues:
For hours and address information, click here.
Keep Up With Gioia:
Interview by Sacramento365’s Content & Social Media Coordinator, Jamila B. Khan.