Norman artist Leticia Galizzi comes from the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais. She lived on both coasts of the United States before coming here four years ago.
In order to better understand Oklahoma’s psyche and prepare to pursue her artistic pursuits, she chose a unique method. Galizzi set up a table on a Main Street sidewalk and invited random passers-by to write down their fondest wishes and leave them for her.
“Not giving their names, but any wishes they had would be written down and put in a box,” she said. “Eventually, I will make paintings from this material for an exhibition. Out of over 100 wishes, only one person wanted something material and she wanted a dog. Nobody wanted a fancy car or anything like that. Many wanted to be better people.
Galizzi was impressed by the kindness, generosity and character of her random sample of Normandy residents.
“Some people asked me for more paper and they wrote back and forth,” she said. “They were having fun with me, a person they don’t know. It allowed me to see what kind of place I was coming from. It made me feel very happy and welcome here.
Galizzi is a wife and mother of two children. She holds graduate degrees in applied linguistics and painting. She teaches beginner Portuguese at the University of Oklahoma. She is also an arts educator at the Firehouse Arts Center.
The Resonator Institute held an exhibition of his paintings in April in downtown Norman. His work is bold, vibrant and attractive. Galizzi chairs public art appreciation sessions on Monday evenings at Benvenuti’s Ristorante (contact [email protected] for more information).
“Choosing art was not an easy path for me,” Galizzi said. “I grew up in a dictatorship where art was hardly an option. Artists were seen as people who did not work.
Galizzi’s undergraduate degree is in business administration. For a time, she worked at a hospital administration consulting firm, but was not passionate about it. Later, while working on a master’s degree in linguistics, she knew that art was what she really wanted to study.
“Creating as an artist now is what I’ve always wanted to do,” she said. “Now that I have the opportunity, I’m very intense about it. I’ve wanted this for a long time. I can have exhibitions and show my work.
Galizzi has a show in Nice, France this summer and one later this year at JRB Art at the Elms Gallery in Oklahoma City. It took time, but Galizzi learned not to think too much about his art.
She relates it to her experience with psychotherapy.
“People will ask me what I’m doing and I’ll tell them I don’t know,” she says. “It takes time, but maybe I’m giving myself permission to see what I’m doing. When you allow your subconscious to manifest, it is sometimes unknown to you. You don’t know it’s there. Sometimes you may be afraid of this. You can fear whatever you desire.
Stemming from his youth in the historic town of Ouro Preto – with its cobbled streets and Baroque architecture – there are ornamental elements in Galizzi’s work.
“The region where I come from has a very particular Baroque style,” she said. “It’s just a part of my soul. There is a desire to add it there and I use it very repetitively. It’s a way of organizing my thoughts.
Many of Galizzi’s paintings are large-scale, which she admits can be exhausting to work with.
“A big board doesn’t control everything,” she says. “In a small board, I watch everything and I have very good control over what I’m doing. A large painting requires a lot of courage, because you have to be courageous in your actions. If everything goes very badly, everything has to be redone.
“But there is no choice but to be brave. If you’re too precious about it, you’ll stop there. When I look at the set, maybe I feel like it’s not ready, so I’m going to have to come back and work on it. It’s a process that demands a lot from my brain and a lot emotionally because of my need to take risks all the time.
Galizzi’s husband, an OU professor, suggested she might want to scale down her paintings to fit in the car. His retort is that he could perhaps write his books with fewer pages.
“I want the challenge and the surprise,” she said. “What I take away from this painting is the ability to see the invisible and the ability to think of something that is bigger than me. I like that the canvas is a place where fears and desires can go out.