By ML Ball (April/May 2018, Edition 25)
Photos: The Art Effect
Before you can be an artist, you need to know who you are. Have a point of view. And often, reveal something very personal. In Anthony DiBattista’s case, all three are true, to a powerful and breathtaking degree. A senior at John Jay High School, DiBattista recently completed the rigorous Senior Project program offered by The Art Effect (formerly Mill Street Loft and Spark Media Project) and taught by Todd Poteet, director of The Art Institute.
A key component of The Art Institute’s pre-college portfolio development program, the Senior Project requires applicants to go through a detailed interview process in which they propose a plan for producing 12 pieces in 12 weeks, unified by one creative theme. With weekly deadlines, candid critiques and high artistic demands, it’s an intense program, culminating in a public show in December where each artist’s body of work is displayed.
Only eight students are accepted, and this past fall, DiBattista was one of them.
As someone who struggled throughout his adolescence with coming to terms with his sexuality, DiBattista said recently that for his senior thesis, he had the idea of expressing his acceptance process through his work and that his 12 paintings would be a depiction of the experiences and revelations that have led him to where he is now in that process.
He explained, “At the time, my family didn’t really know about my sexuality, so I thought this might be a good way to illustrate to them what I’ve gone through and the validity of what I was feeling. I wanted to use my art to show them that this is who I am, this is how I feel, and this is how a bunch of different people feel. Sexuality is fluid, and everyone experiences different feelings at many times. I wanted to show that this is a normal thing and there’s nothing wrong with it.”
DiBattista said that he had talked with his parents about his sexuality before the show and that they were on the same page. “The rest of my family came and saw my work and were so supportive,” he added. “I’m so blessed and lucky to have such a supportive family. Not a lot of people do, which is why I want to be that support system for anyone who might need it.”
Going forward, DiBattista definitely wants to pursue art as a career, particularly in the area of human rights.
“I feel like there’s a lot of disparity in the world right now, and I want to figure out a way to contribute to the healing of things through my artwork,” he said.
For DiBattista, The Art Effect has been key in developing not just who he is as an artist but as an individual. “It created a comfortable environment for me to express myself through my work and not worry about how other people would respond to it. It’s really been a wonderful experience.”
For more information about The Art Effect, visit www.feelthearteffect.org.