Coni Minneci: Home & A to Z and Beyond

Some people bring a creative touch to everything they do. Coni Minneci is one of those individuals. She is a visual artist who produces collage and digital works but is first and foremost a very masterful painter.  She is also a tireless and inventive participant and supporter of her own arts community where she spearheads group exhibitions, teaches classes, organizes fundraisers and other board initiatives. Needless to say, many individuals have benefited from her involvement in their projects and organizations.

Coni Minneci, Untitled, photo-collage, digital print, 2009, from her series Home

Coni Minneci, Untitled, photo-collage, digital print, 2009, from her series Home

Underlying all this energy is an unflappable and infectious positive attitude that carries her, and others, through every activity to successful completion.  We have included two short interview pieces with Coni, Home: A film with artist Coni Minneci and A to Z and Beyond.  Each piece describes a different series of her works.

As I was organizing an exhibition of her collage works, I gained a much deeper understanding about where this energy and positive attitude actually comes from. Home, was a collection of digital photo-collages that Coni had produced while she was helping her aging dad, Dan, move from their family home into an assisted living center. The pieces themselves were digitally scanned, hand-assembled images of her father’s family home juxtaposed with images form her current home.   She found this to be a therapeutic and productive outlet in dealing with the bittersweet emotions that emerged after her daily trips from one home to the other.  Most who deal with this responsibility find it emotionally taxing and Coni was no different. But she always added that because her Dad was so much fun to be around, he made it quite pleasant and, in fact, sometimes down right fun and entertaining.

I had planned to record an interview with her about her artwork to complement the exhibition. But she urged me to include footage of her dad, Dan, in this piece so that others could see what a wonderful person he was. And, she was right. Consequently, the picture-5interview became a film about the pieces she created but also about the inspiration behind the work – her dad. I hope you enjoy this film as much as we did making it. Dan is a force of nature – of the jovial sort.  He likes to sing familiar tunes but with the added twist of his own customized lyrics. It is a joy to be around him and it became very clear where Coni gets all her boundless energy and positive attitude.  The world is a far better place with these people in it.

If you would like to see a current and an upcoming exhibition of Coni Minneci’s artworks, check out the information below.


Coni Minneci A – Z An Historical Survey of Women Artists 
April 30 – June 5, 2010     
171 Cedar Arts Center, Houghton Gallery, 155 Cedar Street at East 1st St.Corning NY 14830   
Opening Reception:  Friday, April 30,  5:30 – 7:30 pm    
Gallery Talk with Artist: Saturday, June 5, 1:00 – 2:00 PM     
Gallery Info: HoughtonGallery.org

Coni Minneci A – Z An Historical Survey of Women Artists 
Sept. 1-24, 2010    
Buffalo State College 1300 Elmwood Avenue, Buffalo, New York, 14222     
E.H. Butler Library, Circulation Gallery      
Lecture: Sept. 21, 2010    
info: coniminneci@gmail.com

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Joanna Raczynska

There is a scene at the beginning of Polish director Andrzej Wajda’s haunting film, Katyn, that will always remain with me.  It is a conversation between two captive Polish army officers held in a Soviet detention camp awaiting their fates.

good-faith-effort-4-featured-artist1The Lieutenant says to his Captain, “Buttons…that’s all that will be left of us.”  This is a tragic convergence of the pragmatic with the prophetic – as the film goes on to depict a fictionalized account of the true story of the 1940 massacre of some 12-15,000 Poles at the hands of the Soviets under Stalin.  And just as importantly, the film also depicts the propagandistic coverup and lie that was perpetrated by the Soviets for years to follow in which they claimed that the Nazis were responsible for this atrocity.   A difficult lie to refute with such a credible scapegoat.  And, an impossible position for Poland to be in – caught between two of the most infamous regimes of the twentieth century.

I felt the need to see this film in order to have a deeper understanding of Joanna Raczynska’s films as subjects relating to Polish history and culture figure so prominently in them.  This is because her childhood was steeped in stories told by her Polish parents about living through World War 2 and post-war Soviet occupied Poland.  And the more significant fact that her maternal grandfather, a Polish Officer, was a victim of the Katyn massacres.

detail image of the desk owned by Joanna Raczynska's grandfather, a silent witness to his execution by the Nazis

detail image of the desk owned by Joanna Raczynska's grandfather, a silent witness to his execution by the Nazis

In her works, Essential Chair and Signature of Things, she chronicles some of these stories in a highly personalized symbolic way – documenting her family history for herself.  In her interview, she says that these are very personal works and doesn’t believe anyone else will really take much away after viewing them.  I am not at all sure that this is true.  Both works explore her relationship with her parents, particularly with her father – specifically in Signature of Things. In this piece, she asks her then gravely-ill father to recall the story of his own father’s execution by the Nazis.  Relating to the loss of a parent is a universal experience which everyone can feel and identify with.  But hearing Joanna’s father describe the events surrounding the death of his father is both shocking and heart-wrenching.  This is something that really stays with you.  In her films Seeing Warsaw, The Philosopher’s Revision and Good Faith Effort, she explores the memories and dilemmas faced by individuals in post-War/post-Soviet occupied Poland.  She documents survivors talking about their experiences during the War and the subsequent Soviet occupation as well as documenting young Poles who recall the Solidarity movement and what living in Poland is like today.

World history aside, all these works remind us that we all have a history which influences why we choose to do the things we do.  Joanna’s films are a testimony to how our family background shapes our outlook on the world and in the case of an artist, how this directly influences the type of artwork he or she chooses to create.

To learn more about Joanna and her works, watch our Featured Artist interview with her or read the accompanying transcript.  And to see her works, visit her website at jraczynska.com.




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